I don’t text and drive, do you?
Written By: No One
Directed By: Werner Herzog
When dealing with the issue of texting and driving the desire is present to sensationalize. It would have been far easier for Werner Herzog to make a film based in sensationalism, and to try and wow the audience with fancy camera angles and the like. Essentially, there was nothing to stop Herr Herzog from turning From One Second To The Next into a non-effective egg frying in a pan. Luckily Herr Herzog is a great filmmaker, and because of that From One Second To The Next isn’t sensationalist. Rather, it is truthful, short, and to the point. That approach hits the viewer hard, and said approach is perfect for the issue of texting and driving.
It would have been just as easy for Herr Herzog to put the focus on himself during From One Second To The Next. He has an alluring personality, a voice that is perfect for narration, and he’s a recognizable face. He often puts himself front and center in his documentaries, and surprisingly it’s usually not for the worst. Herr Herzog has made himself an integral part of documentaries like Grizzly Man, Encounters At The End Of The World, and Into The Abyss. Those are three swell films, and examples of how diverse the documentary field can be. However, From One Second To The Next is devoid of Herr Herzog’s presence except for behind the camera. It’s nothing new to documentary filmmaking, but it’s a slight change of pace for Herr Herzog. A slight change of pace that works in spades for the type of documentary that From One Second To The Next aims to be.
In lieu of a bevy of statistics, and grandstanding Herr Herzog allows people affected by texting and driving to do all the talking. He makes great use of his camera by keeping said camera on the people telling their stories. After all, texting is a conversation and what better way to make the connection that texting isn’t something to do while driving than to present a series of one sided conversations. The harm done to the people featured in From One Second To The Next is more than enough to drive home the point of the film. But, Herr Herzog isn’t willing to pull his camera back and give his subjects their space and privacy. That may have been the nice thing to do, but for people to understand how dangerous texting and driving can be the pain of the documentaries subjects need be laid bare for all to see. The camera lingers, and in the process captures the pain, loss, and struggle faced by all of the documentaries subjects.
From One Second To The Next is a public service announcement, but it’s a public service announcement done right. The stark, and in your face, approach of the documentary is also subtle in important ways. People aren’t going to watch From One Second To The Next and start cracking jokes about an egg in a frying pan. Hopefully people will watch From One Second To The Next and be struck by the harsh reality of what can happen when one chooses to text and drive. I didn’t text and drive coming into From One Second To The Next. Thanks to the harrowing stories of death, loss, and damage presented by Herr Herzog’s fine filmmaking I hope that is a practice adopted by more people right now, because as the film proves time and again, no text is worth your life or anyone else’s.