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The White Diamond (2004)The White Diamond (2004)

A documentary by director Werner Herzog (cf. Grizzly Man) is never as simple as its plot and subject first suggest. In 2004 Herzog joined the quixotic British aeronautical engineer Graham Dorrington who traveled to remote Guyana in South America to fly his two-seater contraption over the rain forests, ostensibly for scientific research. But filming that quest is really a side show to Herzog's broader interests. He pokes and prods at the eccentric Dorrington, especially the guilt he tries to assuage over a fatal accident that killed his friend Dieter Plage in Sumatra in 1993. He trains his camera on the spectacular scenery, especially the thousands of swifts who nest there. In one phenomenal close-up of a single tiny rain drop he captures the reflection of the thundering Kaieteur Falls in the distance. Like an anthropologist he explores the lives of the bare foot Guyanan locals who slop through the mud to help Dorrington, like Mark Anthony who loves his pet rooster and epitomizes Rastafarian harmony. In other scenes we see the appalling environmental degradation of the diamond mines, a teenage boy beside the Falls moon-walking to the reggae from his boom box, and Dorrington's tear-dropped dirigible meandering over the river and forests. Herzog demonstrates how even the simplest plot lends itself to rich explorations.

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