Illuminating look at the way physically disabled people were dealt with in West Germany in the late 60's / early 70's.


Werner Herzog


Rolf Illig
as Narrator

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Krustallos 7 /10

"Obstructed Future"

Worthwhile early documentary from Herzog exploring the different treatment accorded to the disabled in Germany and the USA. Given the then fairly recent history of Germany there are resonances in this film that will not have been lost on its original audience.

Certainly at the time the film was made disabled rights were decades ahead in the US; among other things this is a powerful and compassionate campaigning documentary.

See it with "Land of Silence and Darkness" if you can. The two films, made in the same year, share a lot and in fact I believe the making of the second flowed directly from the first.

Reviewed by Horst_In_Translation 6 /10

Herzog on disability

This is a one-hour documentary movie by German writer and director Werner Herzog from Almost 45 years ago. However, the version I watched was only slightly under 45 minutes. It basically deals with a group of disabled children and how they master their everyday lives on their own and with the help of trained guardians. As the title implies, this movie is not only focused on the kids life today, but also on their prospects in the future and comes the conclusion that these are pretty bad unfortunately. I personally would be interested in seeing a documentary film from today to see how they developed now that they are probably all in their 50s. It's a decent early effort by Herzog, who was still in his 20s when this was made. We hear Herzog ask some of the questions and his voice back then sounded already pretty much like his voice today. However, he does not narrate this film. The late and prolific German actor Rolf Illig takes this job here. In the end, they show a good example of how a disabled child developed into a successful adult. It says a lot that he had to go to the United States for that. Then again, many disabled people were killed in Nazi Germany (30 years before this documentary), so there were maybe not too many people to pick from in Germany. All in all, it's a decent watch, not among Herzog's worst, but not among his best either. Recommended.

Reviewed by Leofwine_draca 7 /10

Slight, but moving

HANDICAPPED FUTURE is another moving documentary focusing on the plight of the disabled in West Germany, made by auteur Werner Herzog. It's not as in depth as his film that dealt with the deafblind, the feature length LAND OF SILENCE AND DARKNESS, but it's nonetheless a story that packs a punch as the director explores the way that disabled children struggle to integrate into a modern society.

Most of the kids are Thalidomide victims and it's certainly distressing viewing watching their natural good-natured spirits combine with their overwhelming disability. Some scenes, like where a child draws tears on her self-portrait, are quietly distressing, and yet as always Herzog lets the subject matter tell the story, always refusing to condemn or preach. The latter stages of the documentary move to America, showing in contrast the life of a disabled man who's able to live a relatively normal life thanks to that country's support system. Food for thought for sure.

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