Maybe you’ve heard, but AT&T approached Mbird favorite Werner Herzog to do a public service announcement on the dangers of texting while driving. Rather than a short commercial-length announcement, Herzog made a 36-minute short film, interviewing both the victims and the guilty. It is not an easy watch by any stretch, but worth it. As always, what Herzog is so adept at is the direct emotional resonance he pulls from all of his subjects. He levels these stories into the inner-lives of us all. This is also why he chose not to use graphic imagery in his PSA, as he tells NPR’s David Greene:

What was proposed to me immediately made sense. It immediately gave me the feeling I’m the right person because I don’t need to show blood and gore and wrecked cars. What I wanted to do was show the interior side of the catastrophes…It’s a deep raw emotion — the kind of deep wounds that are in those who were victims of accidents and also in those who were the perpetrators. Their life has changed and they are suffering forever. They have this sense of guilt that pervades every single action, every single day, every single dream and nightmare.

One of the more powerful moments is the story of Chandler Gerber (around the 7-minute mark), who killed three in an Amish family while texting “I love you” to his wife. The mother and two children were killed. Herzog captures both the acceptance of Gerber’s culpability, the weight of a perpetrator’s guilt, as well as an impossible letter from the father in the family. As Herzog says of one of the perpetrators, the man saying, “Look at me, look at me, no one should have this on their shoulders,” there is an inner-landscape to these people that make them like you or me:

Originally I was supposed to do four spots, 30 seconds long, but I immediately said these deep emotions, this inner landscape can only be shown if you have more time. You have to know the persons. You have to allow silences, for example, deep silences of great suffering.