Herzog began filmmaking at aged 20, with this perturbing 10 minute short. Set within a gym, it sees several bodybuilders going about their weight routines and flexing, with hardened faces, their bulging, almost nude, forms. This scene is interrupted with footage of events or places that appear to be contemporary realisations of 6 of the 12 labours of Herakles, all preempted by a caption like “Shall he clean the Augean Stables?”- the waste of 1000 divine cattle has become a city dump.
The jazz soundtrack provides tempo for each cut and rhythmic inflections to relate the action within the frame. There are some very provocative moments: a racing car crash that appears to kill several people in the crowd, bombers that cause immense destruction, but mostly it is just men in their underpants lifting weights. The film does not aspire to be much more than an exercise in style, and it easily identifies as a repsonse to Godard and the new-wave movement. Few directors can be traced to their short-film roots at as young as 20. Its definitely worth a look for Herzog followers.
You can view it in full here: