"But, like sleep-walkers, people walk toward their doom."
A glassmaker dies in an isolated Bavarian village, taking to his grave the secret of how to make his famed ruby glass. The town, desperate to discover the secret, falls into a collective madness.
Herzog wants to lure the viewer's consciousness into a place of dreamy madness alongside the fatalistic characters. Bizarrely, he hypnotized the actors before each take, resulting in unnervingly off-kilter, somnambulant performances. The actors drone all their dialogue, which consists of apocalyptic prophecies and mystic non-sequiturs. Characters go cross-eyed, roll their eyes back in their heads, or stiffly hold their arms in the air for no reason. The effect is both eerie and inexplicably hilarious.
Is this a visionary…