Werner Herzog

"Often shooting under extreme conditions, with a bare script, Herzog's films have dragged him to the most remote and barren corners of the world. Besides sublime imagery of the world's most impressive landscapes, his approach has given his films an adventurous revolutionary spirit and emotional accuracy no travel report could deliver." - Ernest Mathijs (501 Movie Directors, 2007)

Werner Herzog

Director / Screenwriter / Producer / Actor
(1942- ) Born September 5, Munich, Bavaria, Germany
Top 250 Directors / 21st Century's Top 50 Directors

Key Production Countries: West Germany, Germany, USA, UK, France, Canada
Key Genres: Documentary, Biography, Drama, Adventure, Adventure Drama, Culture & Society, History, Avant-garde/Experimental, Jungle Film, Short Films, Psychological Drama, Period Film
Key Collaborators: Beate Mainka-Jellinghaus (Editor), Joe Bini (Editor), Peter Zeitlinger (Cinematographer), Thomas Mauch (Cinematographer), Popol Vuh (Composer), Jorg Schmidt-Reitwein (Cinematographer), Klaus Kinski (Leading Actor), Lucki Stipetic (Producer), Brad Dourif (Leading Character Actor), Ernst Reijsiger (Composer), Peter Berling (Leading Character Actor), Ulrich Bergfelder (Production Designer)

"Werner Herzog is regarded as one of the most eccentric figures of das neue kino. His films feature inspiring landscapes and controversial actors (the flamboyant Klaus Kinski, the strange Bruno S.) at odds with their world. Herzog is also well known for the making of his films, whether hypnotizing the entire cast in Heart of Glass (1976), dragging a boat through the Amazon jungle for Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972), or feuding with actor Kinski… One of the leading figures of the New German Cinema, he has remained a radical individualist and a cinematic visionary for over forty years. His films disturb by their questioning of the bases of human civilization and its values." - Schirmer Encyclopedia of Film, 2006
"Fond of shooting in difficult locations, he can seem as eccentric and driven as one of his heroes. Recently he appears to have found it difficult to continue making films, but his visionary work of the 70s constitutes a high point of the modern cinema." - Geoff Andrew (The Director's Vision, 1999)
"It was immediately clear that Herzog possessed a quick sense of narrative; a withdrawn, mobile camera; and a dark, inquisitive humour... As attention fell on Herzog, so his pursuit of extremism became a little more studied; it began to seem more zealous than natural... Herzog pictures were events in the seventies, but they became very hard to see, Fitzcarraldo was the last film to get wide screenings" - David Thomson (The New Biographical Dictionary of Film, 2002)
"Werner Herzog, more than any director of his generation, has through his films embodied German history, character, and cultural richness. While references to verbal and other visual arts would be out of place in treating most film directors, they are key to understanding Herzog. For his techniques he reaches back into the early part of the twentieth century to the Expressionist painters and filmmakers, back to the Romantic painters and writers for the luminance and allegorization of landscape and the human figure." - Rodney Farnsworth (The St. James Film Directors Encyclopedia, 1998)
"The auteur theory of directorial supremacy promulgated by the Cahiers du Cinéma boys seems tailor-made for the philosophically inclined Herzog. Indeed his single-mindedness in getting his visions onto celluloid has sometimes more resembled the compulsive tic of an incipient madman, particularly when twinned with the complementary mania of actor Klaus Kinski, whom Herzog, despite his better judgment, and at some considerable risk to what remained of his own sanity, persisted in using as his alter ego on screen." - Mario Reading (The Movie Companion, 2006)
"Herzog exerts total control over his work, which he also produces and writes. His films are deeply personal and thoroughly uncompromising. Although he once stated that "film is not the art of scholars but of illiterates," much of his work remains beyond the grasp or interest of mass audiences. But he is increasingly admired by a widening horde of filmgoers as one of the most creative and exhilarating artists on the international film scene today." - The MacMillan International Film Encyclopedia, 1994
"One of the best of the new wave of German filmmakers, Herzog has already mastered themes of illusion, delusion, alienation, and hypocrisy." - William R. Meyer (The Film Buff's Catalog, 1978)
"There are certainly laws and elements that make a film more accessible to mainstream audiences. If you've got Tom Cruise as a strongman, I'm sure it would have larger audiences, but it wouldn't have the same substance." - Werner Herzog
"I cannot work fast enough. I cannot cope fast enough, really. And just releasing a film is hard." - Werner Herzog
TSPDT Guide
Recommended
Signs of Life (1968), Land of Silence and Darkness (1971), Fata Morgana (1971), Aguirre: The Wrath of God (1972) , The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (1974) , Stroszek (1977), Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979), Lessons of Darkness (1992), Little Dieter Needs to Fly (1997), My Best Fiend (1999), Grizzly Man (2005) , Into the Abyss (2011)
Worth a Look
Last Words (1968), The Great Ecstasy of Woodcarver Steiner (1975), Heart of Glass (1976), Fitzcarraldo (1982) , Cobra Verde (1987), Ten Minutes Older: The Trumpet (2002) [also directed by Chen Kaige, Victor Erice, Jim Jarmusch, Aki Kaurismäki, Spike Lee & Wim Wenders], The White Diamond (2004), Rescue Dawn (2006), Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call - New Orleans (2009), Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2010)
Approach with Caution
Even Dwarfs Started Small (1970), God's Angry Man [TV] (1981), Scream of Stone (1991), The Wild Blue Yonder (2005)
Not Recommended
My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done (2009)
Acclaimed Films / IMDB Filmography
1,000 Greatest Films 21st Century's Most Acclaimed Films
Werner Herzog / Favourite Films
Freaks (1932) Tod Browning, Intolerance (1916) D.W. Griffith, Nosferatu (1922) F.W. Murnau, Rashomon (1950) Akira Kurosawa, Where is the Friend's Home? (1987) Abbas Kiarostami.
Source: Rotten Tomatoes (2009)
Amazon Products
Films / Books
    Fitzcarraldo
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