I can’t find a link to Daniel Zalewski‘s brilliant sprawling piece in last week’s 4.24 edition of the New Yorker about Werner Herzog and the arduous, financially troubled shooting of Rescue Dawn in northwest Thailand last year, but it’s a fantastic read, and there must be some way to say this without sounding like Larry King. “Herzog likes to say that he is ‘clinically sane and completely professional,'” Zalewski writes early on, “but he is keenly aware that his reputation is otherwise.” A dramatic re-do of Herzog’s 1997 documentary Little Dieter Needs to Fly and set in Laos in 1965 or thereabouts, Rescue Dawn costars Christian Bale and Steve Zahn. The editing is nearly finished — obviously too late for Cannes but I wouldn’t be surprised if it turns up at the Toronto Film Festival in September. Zalewski writes that Herzog’s career has been “consistently plagued by intrigue, peril, and disaster” and that, “perhaps unfairly, he is less renowned for his oddly brilliant movies than for the arduous, and sometimes savage, circumstances under which they were made.” In Thailand, Zalewski write, “The mood on the set was toxic.” Herzog, who typically works with a small crew and budget, was dismissive of the large technical crew that the film’s production company, Gibraltar Entertainment, had saddled him with. And, Zalewski writes, “At every turn, crew members let him know that they considered his directing habits strange, impulsive, even amateurish…as they saw it, Herzog was ruining a potentially lush adventure movie by shooting it like a quickie documentary.” Zalewski also gets into Rescue Dawn‘s financial problems as well. (I tried summing them up in 3.21 WIRED item.) By the end, some crew members had quit mid-shoot, Thailand’s governor of tourism had revoked the production’s work permits because of a dispute with a contractor, and producers and crew members were prevented from leaving Thailand until alleged taxes were paid. Zalewski writes, “Herzog believes that modern life has disconnected humans from their most elemental pleasures. His films, accordingly, attempt to connect modern cinemagoers to their prelapsarian selves: the emotions are always primal, and landscape is integral to the drama.” Herzog says, “You will never see people talking on the phone, driving in a car, or exchanging ironic jokes in my films…it is always bigger, deeper.”