Ten Thousand Years Old (2004)

Ten Thousand Years Old is Werner Herzog’s contribution to Ten Minutes Older: The Trumpet.

As in most of his documentary work, Herzog’s distinct voice guides the work. First he catches us up to speed. In 1981 a film crew ventured into the Amazon to document one of the last tribes on Earth to never have encountered modern man. With their camera tucked away in a tent the British crew gets the first glimpse the tribe. Two decades later Herzog travels back to the Amazon to document what has become of the tribe. The tribal leaders now wear ratty t-shirts and painter’s caps. The talk of plane rides they have taken, doctor’s they have visited, and white women they have slept with. Their children dream of escaping to the city. Their is nostalgia in their eyes that plays out in their re-telling of attacks they used to make on those who encroaching upon their tribe.

Then, there is Herzog. It is really he who is telling us all that is being said.  In an odd way he nearly positions himself as being a noble voice, reporting on the tragic demise of this tribe’s culture. At the same time, Herzog’s lament brings about a curious question? Would Herzog have left this corner of the world untouched. His adventurous spirit and his ethnographic interests make him a ripe candidate to fill the same shoes worn by the British crew that first encountered this tribe. Rather than being the first to the party, Herzog is left to pick up the pieces and like all of his other documentary work he presents his subject in a thought provoking and philosophical manner.

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