Dour Bavarian filmmaker Werner Herzog has announced today that he is starting pre production on a filmic version of fondly remembered Swis claymation children’s programme Pingu.
Herzog - speaking about what attracted him to the prospect of adapting the adventures of a reckless penguin and his pals as he juggled, sledded and fished in the south pole- told us: “The arctic wastelands are a place where we can see the futility of existence in its fullest. The empty nature cycle of animal life can be seen in the lives of penguins there. They freeze and feed and die in an environment as close to meaningless Purgatory that our primitive minds can conjure”
The Fitzcarraldo director added, “Civilization is like a thin layer of plasticine ice upon a deep ocean of chaos and darkness. And Man is the penguin sledding across it making indecipherable sounds to Nothing.”
Many film journalists suspected the move once the rights to Pingu were optioned by US studio Warner Bros. And though, not the first choice, few are surprised by the choice of Werner Herzog.
Professor of Bavarian Director Studies Martin Holness told us: “Werner’s been working on documentaries for the past few years, from Grizzly Man to Encounters At The Edge of The World to The Wild Blue Yonder so we all know that nature and animals are a big topic for him. In fact it was in Encounters that he first went to an Antarctic setting to make a film about being grim and cold. If you recall he devoted some time in that film to filming the wildlife- particularly the penguins- that were there, taking time to explain how their frolicking reminded him of the creeping inevitability of oblivion in a godless universe”
Herzog recalls his own time in the arctic, filming the real penguins saying,: “What haunts me, is that in all the faces of all the penguins that the documentaries ever filmed, I discover no kinship, no understanding, no mercy. I see only the overwhelming indifference of nature. To me, there is no such thing as a secret world of the penguins. This is the lie my film explodes. My Pingu’s blank stare and honking speech speaks only of a half-bored interest in food. But for children, this plasticine void was a friend, a savior. I want to deconstruct that childish nonsense.”
Despite CGI and motion capture technology Herzog insists that he will remain true to the source material and use stop motion animation. Herzog told us of his affection for the medium: “The plastic puppet? It is the perfect symbol of the animal kingdom. It is just matter puppetted by forces beyond its control; the sheer impulses of hunger and procreation and the nullifying drive of the evolutionary mill that makes the notion of kindness or light into a joke I would laugh at if I recalled a way to do so that was not empty pantomime”
“I believe the common character of the universe is not harmony, but chaos, hostility, and murder” Herzog added.
‘Pingu: Fish and Futility’ is due to be released 12th October 2012