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