Screened as part of NZIFF 2005

The White Diamond 2004

Directed by Werner Herzog

Werner Herzog’s stirring, lyrical documentary about Graham Dorrington, an English engineer who explores the South American rainforest canopy from a silently floating airship.

Germany / Japan / UK In English, German and Quechua with English subtitles
88 minutes DigiBeta

Director, Narrator


Werner Herzog. From a storyline by Rudolph Herzog, Annette Scheurich. Based on an idea by Rainer Bergomaz, Marion Pollmann


Henning Brümmer
Klaus Scheurich


Joe Bini


Ernst Reijseger


Amsterdam Documentary 2004; San Francisco, Sydney 2005


The White Diamond is an unusually lyrical addition to Werner Herzog’s gallery of troubled men with extravagant dreams (Aguirre, Fitzcarraldo, Grizzly Man). The dreamer here is Dr Graham Dorrington, an engineer at St Mary’s College in London, whose ambition is to explore the South American rainforest canopy in a two-man airship, “drifting”, as he says “with the motors off in the peace and quiet, quietly floating above those forests in the mist”. In an opening assemblage of spectacular archival footage, Herzog reminds us that the history of flight is also the history of air accidents, and Dorrington is as motivated by the tragic death of his friend, wildlife documentary filmmaker Dieter Plage, in 1993, as he is by the thrill of discovery. Herzog is just as attentive to the dreams of other members of the team, and the mysteries and wonders of the environment they explore. Seeing flocks of swifts dip and dive into the caves behind the Kaieteur Falls, four times the height of Niagara, we seem to be both flying and dreaming ourselves.