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DIRECTOR'S CUT / Just me and my shadow: Werner Herzog watches Fred Astaire dancing with his shadow in George Stevens' Swing Time of 1936

Werner Herzog
Thursday 17 September 1992 23:02 BST

FRED Astaire is dancing, casting a very big shadow against a white wall behind him. He stops, the shadow stops. He starts again, the shadow starts again. Then all of a sudden he stops and the shadow starts to dance on without him. At the end I think he catches up with it and it follows him again. He must have pre-recorded the shadow and projected it against the wall, dancing with the utmost precision to match it. Normally this kind of trick is done by technology - back projection or double exposure - and once it has been deciphered it loses its magic. But here it's all accomplished through the human precision of Fred Astaire, and when you guess how it was done it becomes even more mysterious and awesome. It's the purest, most total movie sequence I've ever seen in my life. It's very strange because Fred Astaire has the most stupid face on screen and his movies have the most insipid stories. But everything ever filmed with him has some sort of greatness. And the purest of the pure, the finest of the fine for me is this sequence from Swing Time. It's cinema, nothing else.

Werner Herzog's latest film, 'Scream of Stone', launches a German Film Week at the Metro Cinema, Rupert St, tonight at 7pm. Herzog will be present at the second screening on Monday at 9pm; 10 pairs of free tickets await the first 10 readers to arrive at the Metro bearing this page on Monday after 2.30. The season includes 'Happy Birthday, Turke]', by Doris Dorrie, director of 'Men' (today, 3pm & 9pm); 'Little Sharks', a German 'Fame' voted Best Debut Film at Montreal (Mon 7pm & Wed 3pm); and 'A Demon in my View', an English-language thriller with the late Anthony Perkins (Sun 9pm). Details: 071-437 0757.

(Photograph omitted)

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