Friday, April 18, 2008

Die große Ekstase des Bildschnitzers Steiner

Of all the sports films out there, Werner Herzog's Die große Ekstase des Bildschnitzers Steiner (The Great Ecstasy of the Woodcarver Steiner) is one of the best. Only the cycling films of Jørgen Leth exceed it, and Ken Burns' Baseball comes in a close second, though his style is too different, too documentarian to bare comparison with Herzog's work. Leth and Herzog are far more poetic in the truths they seek to illuminate, whilst Burns is the master of the textured and well-spun yarn.

Beyond its cinematic virtues, its subject matter is in utter harmony with Esthetecyclist: an athlete who loves his sport, a sculptor who loves his craft ~ an athlete-esthete. And the coolest thing is, Steiner now lives in Sweden and works as a gardener. C'est parfait, ça!

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