Werner Herzog is one of the great living film directors. His films, from Aguirre, Wrath of God to Grizzly Man to Cave of Forgotten Dreams have changed the film world. However, it would be hard to argue that any have saved a life. His most recent film, “From One Second To The Next,” about texting while driving, probably will.
We start with the story of XZavier, a young boy who dreamed of being a football star.
“He would have been an excellent athlete,” says XZavier’s mom, recalling how obsessed her son was with football. “I was always looking forward to being in the stands, screaming ‘X X X X.’ That was mom’s dream.”
We then see XZavier come home, full of smiles, propelled by a wheelchair. X is paralyzed from the diaphragm down. Injury to his spinal cord resulting from an accident left X without the use of his legs, his right arm, and he now needs a ventilator to breathe.
“She was not only speeding in the school zone, but she had run the stop sign,” says XZavier’s sister Aurie, who was holding X at the time of the accident. She finishes her sentence with the message of the film: “Because she was texting.”
XZavier is one of four crash victims profiled in Herzog’s film. The film is part of a campaign called It Can Wait, sponsored by telecom giants AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile.
The film profiles four accidents around the United States. The next section begins with an interview that seems to be with the victim:
“I’m just a guy,” says Chandler Gerber. “This could have happened to anyone.” Then Gerber delivers this devastating line:
“This is the last text message I sent before I killed three people.” The words “I love you,” appear on the screen.
The film, though it falls somewhere between a public service announcement (PSA) and a documentary, carries Herzog’s distinctive style and sense of drama, with shots held longer than most, but never too long:
"I knew I could do it because it has to do with catastrophic events invading a family," Herzog told the AP. "In one second, entire lives are either wiped out or changed forever. That kind of emotional resonance is something that I knew I could cover."
Gerber, who lives in Indiana, was texting with his wife when he hit an Amish buggy. He was reading a text, and didn’t even see the buggy until he crashed into it.
The film is 35 minutes and quite devastating. It’s worthwhile though. You watching Herzog’s film might be the difference between you texting and not texting the next time you get the urge when you are driving. That could make the difference between a drive and an accident. A life and a death.