Nomad: In the Footsteps of Bruce Chatwin (2019)

Nomad: In the Footsteps of Bruce Chatwin (2019)

A travelogue through various uncanny mysteries, and a love letter to a dearly departed friend

7.9

Movie

United Kingdom
English, German
Documentary
2019
WERNER HERZOG
Bruce Chatwin, Elizabeth Chatwin, Karin Eberhard
89 min

TLDR

I for one think there's no sweeter show of affection than revisiting the creepy folk civilization we once talked about together.

What it's about

Filmmaker Werner Herzog travels to various strange places around the world that his late friend, the travel writer Bruce Chatwin, once documented.

The take

The sooner you adjust your expectations for Nomad—and realize that this isn't a travel documentary but Werner Herzog's own wonderfully offbeat way of remembering his dear friend—the better. Any uneven moments in this film's construction are smoothed over by the sheer authenticity of what Herzog puts on screen, from his own distinctive narration, to gorgeous excerpts from Bruce Chatwin's writings, to the sounds and images that make up the strange worlds that both men were fascinated in. No mysteries are solved here, but just being closer to the strange and surreal becomes a way for Herzog to come to terms with the strangest and most surreal of life's realities: death.

What stands out

Though arguably more known for his eccentricity, Herzog reminds us that he has space in his heart (and his filmmaking) for more tender and sentimental gestures—and that shouldn't cheapen his films in the eyes of those who admire his artistry. Herzog's final conversations with Chatwin's prose are about as sweet and heartfelt as any eulogy to a close friend. And through this unexpectedly graceful send-off, even the creepiest images we see throughout the rest of the film take on a newfound sense of wonder. If the unfamiliar and the unexplained don't scare us, neither should the void that lies beyond this life.

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