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Minor Herzog but an engaging yarn
on 17 October 2004
Werner Herzog's Scream of Stone is a legend in film sales: a big-budget German-French-Canadian mountaineering drama that became a byword for how not to sell a movie to foreign distributors when they asked so much money that no-one could afford it and it went virtually unreleased before turning up a decade latter on budget DVD (this is its first UK release in any form).
It's actually not at all bad, although there's surprisingly little mountaineering in it: the main thrust of the film is the conflict between a legendary mountaineer who fails to climb an infamous Patagonian mountain and the exhibition climber who claims to have done so, with a restrained Donald Sutherland as the sports journalist caught in the middle and Mathilda May making a better job of the obligatory love interest than the script should let her. Brad Dourif turns up briefly as a fingerless climber infatuated with Mae West and seeming to channel the spirit of early Jack Nicholson (well, it is Herzog - you expected restraint?), but even he is less wild than expected.
The least successful element is the comic relief introduction of Al Waxman's tiresome TV producer towards the end (as well as an actress who HAD to be sleeping with either the director or one of the producers), but it's not fatal. It's a minor film, but an engaging watch with some good photography (albeit the film was surprisingly not shot in widescreen, presumably to emphasise height over width) and a neat ending.
No extras - not even a menu (although the disc is chaptered), but more than acceptable at the bargain price.