Film Comment - 03/01/2005
"Putting the mock back into mockumentary....Often hilarious..."
This inventive documentary features the renown German director Werner Herzog on the trail of the fabled Loch Ness Monster. The film begins in Herzog's Los Angeles home during a star-studded dinner party with, among others, Jeff Goldblum, Crispin Glover, and Ricky Jay. Herzog, who directed the legendary AGUIRRE THE WRATH OF GOD and FITZCARRALDO, explains to cameras that the existence of the Loch Ness monster is far less important to him than society's collective experience of the imaginary creature. Herzog and his elite documentary crew travel to Scotland to begin production. On the first day, Producer Zak Penn (playing himself) encourages the entire crew to wear the awful jump suits they would wear if they were characters in an ocean melodrama such as THE ABYSS. Later, the crew discovers Penn has secretly hired an exotic-looking actress in a string bikini to operate the boat's sonar system. By the time the crew catches a glimpse of a mysterious shape moving through the water, Herzog believes that it must be Penn, again, tinkering with the "reality" of the documentary by creating false drama. As the director and producer angrily struggle over their disparate artistic visions, uneasiness reverberates throughout the crew; some even abandon ship. Herzog (and, in fact, everyone) become increasingly preoccupied with chasing down the story, and cannot fully appreciate the significance of what is actually happening.
INCIDENT AT LOCH NESS provides witty commentary about the artifice involved in both moviemaking and storytelling. Pushing the boundaries of the documentary format, INCIDENT AT LOCH NESS points out the way that "truth" is often misconstrued.
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