Werner Herzog Made a Documentary About Texting While Driving. And It’s Haunting.

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
Aug. 9 2013 10:04 AM

Werner Herzog Made a Documentary About Texting While Driving. And It’s Haunting. 

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Werner Herzog

Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images for DIFF

"From One Second to the Next," the rather unlikely film below, came together when AT&T approached the legendary German filmmaker Werner Herzog and asked if he would direct a series of short films warning people about the dangers of texting while driving.

"What AT&T proposed immediately clicked and connected inside of me," Herzog told the AP. "There's a completely new culture out there. I'm not a participant of texting and driving—or texting at all—but I see there's something going on in civilization which is coming with great vehemence at us."

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The result is haunting. It focuses on four accidents, some of them fatal, and Herzog aims his camera squarely at the faces of both victims and perpetrators, asking them to describe in detail what happened and the aftermath. Herzog emphasizes the change in civilization he perceives in part by examining an accident in which an Amish family was killed and another in which a horse-shoer's truck was involved.

It is not easy viewing, but, for the "more than 40,000 high schools" and "hundreds of safety organizations and government agencies" where it will be shown, I suspect it will be effective. As Herzog says, "In one second, entire lives are either wiped out or changed forever."

David Haglund is a senior editor at Slate. He runs Brow Beat, Slate's culture blog.