Basic philosophical issues in cinema were brought home with a vengeance on a recent revisit to Werner Herzog's Fata Morgana. Herzog is one of the masters of the modern cinema, and Fata Morgana is one of his key films. In its shimmering opacity it occupies a unique place in the director's oeuvre, quite separate from his deceptively “realistic,” plotted films (Aguirre,Signs of Life, Woyzeck,Kaspar Häuser, Stroszek, et al.). Fata Morgana is the paradigm of Herzog's more overtly experimental films (such as Even Dwarfs Started Small, Precautions Against Fanatics, Last Words, The Unparalleled Defense of Fortress Deutschkreutz). It provides a key to the director's universe, and could only have emerged from a country ravaged by two world wars, total fascism, the traumas of scientific genocide and saturation bombings.