Herzog’s The White Diamond, The Chronicle of a Tear-Shaped Dirigible
In his eternal search for strangeness, Herzog takes us aboard a white, tear-shaped dirigible to float over forests and waterfalls.
Who is Herzog but a talented chemist who experiments with randomness to reveal to us the planet’s other temperaments? Or a man who walks because he knows that the world widens for those who seek true stories, with all of their charm and horror, of the infinite drama of humankind and nature. Herzog travels to the ends of the earth and always comes back loaded with treasures that he generously shares, and in this way discovers old and new territories for us. All this is revealed majestically, but also weightlessly, in his documentary The White Diamond (2004).
The film, which also includes some overwhelmingly beautiful images, is the chronicle of an expedition to the tropical forests of British Guyana, where an aeronautical engineer called Graham Dorrington wants to fly his latest invention, a small white, tear-shaped dirigible.
More than a narrative, The White Diamond is a series of impressions motivated by that dangerous romance that Herzog has always chased. Dorrington, a hero and pilot of the white diamond, is the director’s alter ego; his entire life revolves around his infinite restlessness to seek inroads into mysteries and he is set on making a dream come true, the strangest and most lyrical of dreams: to float across the treetops and the astounding waterfalls of a region still unknown to humans.
Fascinated by the Kaieteur waterfall, five times higher than Niagara Falls, and whose curtain of water and spray has only been penetrated by birds, Herzog drops a camera down to capture images never before seen by human eyes, but he then decided to not include them in the film in order to not violate the mythical potential that the waterfall has for the local inhabitants. There is a moment in the documentary in which the director films the waterfall seen inverted through a drop of water suspended from a leaf, and which is probably one of the most enchanting.
There, showing us the drop of water, we meet one of the men who is perhaps one of the planet’s most noble people: Marc Anthony, a Rastafarian diamond miner who ends up being a shining star of the project and who gives a name to the film. He is the last survivor in Guyana of an extended family that has emigrated to Málaga, Spain, and he takes advantage of the camera to innocently describe the beauty and send a message to Spain:
That is a beautiful view. It has a sunset and there is the balloon just floating
around aimlessly. Yeah, it’s beautiful. It’s just fantastic. I’m so fortunate
enough to witness something of a gem. I’m a miner mostly, and this is like a
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