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Werner Herzog's 'From One Second to the Next' is an Internet hit

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Director Werner Herzog's sobering new documentary short, "From One Second to the Next," is a hit on the Internet.

The 35-minute film, a cautionary look at the dangers of texting while driving, has racked up nearly 1.75 million views on YouTube since it debuted Aug. 8. 

The movie, made in partnership by wireless carriers AT&T, Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile and Sprint, is at times gut-wrenching in its depiction of lives irrevocably changed by accidents related to drivers who were texting on their mobile phones.

WATCH: Werner Herzog's 'From One Second to the Next' documentary

Despite the exceedingly tough subject matter, "From One Second to the Next" has struck a chord on social media sites. 

Michelle Kuckelman, executive director integrated brand marketing at AT&T, said that the documentary generated about 138,000 tweets last weekend. She attributed that volume to a tie-in with the Teen Choice Awards, which aired Sunday on Fox. Kuckelman said the goal had been just 10,000 tweets.

And anecdotal evidence suggests "From One Second to the Next" is a hot topic on Facebook and other websites.

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"Clearly the documentary is doing what we hoped it would do," said Kuckelman, whose company began working on public service announcements about the dangers of texting while driving in 2009. "Folks are consuming it. We've had a tremendous amount of warm reception. I am not surprised because Werner is a brilliant storyteller."

Herzog is known for his raw documentaries, many of which confront issues related to death and loss. Among his works are "Grizzly Man," about the death of bear enthusiast Timothy Treadwell; and "Into the Abyss," about two men guilty of a triple homicide. The German director also is a narrative filmmaker whose credits include "Aguirre, the Wrath of God" and "Rescue Dawn."

Herzog was first approached by AT&T in 2012 to work on a series of 30-second public service announcements on the dangers of texting while driving. Those short spots were released last year, but Herzog thought there was room to expand on the subject.

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The filmmaker told The Times that he "immediately said it would be really good if there were a longer form of it. Everybody expected me to bring the same deep raw emotion into 30 seconds, and you can't do that fully."

A 12-minute version of "From One Second to the Next" will be shown in 40,000 high schools, and will roll out at the start of the coming school year. In addition to appearing on YouTube, the film can also be viewed at ItCanWait.com.

The four wireless carriers paid for "From One Second to the Next." Kuckelman declined to discuss the cost of the film.

Kuckelman said that earlier this year, AT&T was approached by Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint about partnering on the project. Though the companies are cutthroat competitors, AT&T didn't hesitate to team up with the other firms.

"At the end of the day, we are trying to save lives," she said. "This is not about products or individual brands. It's about consequences."

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