Director’s Chair Introduction: Werner Herzog

by Tony Cogan · January 8, 2018 · Director's Chair · 2 Comments

Deadline: 3rd February

Send Emails To:

Hello everyone and welcome to a new year of Director’s Chair and for the start of this new year, I thought I’d head towards Germany and highlight the films of probably the most insane director I’ve featured so far, Werner Herzog.

Now Werner Herzog is a man not exactly known for taking things easy with his films. Over the course of his career him and his crews dragged a steam ship over a mountain range, illegally filmed in China, stealing a camera from the Munich Film School, hypnotising the actors for one film, shooting a 3D documentary in a cave system that meant he could only have 3 other crew members with no compositing available and filming a documentary on a volcano on the verge of erupting. Then we get to what happened to Herzog himself, including getting an offer from a tribal leader during the filming of Aguirre: The Wrath of God to assassinate Klaus Kinski, eating his shoe after losing a bet and having it filmed, jumping into a cactus patch after wrapping a film and responding to getting shot during an interview with Mark Kermode by saying it was ‘not a significant bullet’. This style even goes to what he teaches students at his Rogue Film School, with his lessons including lockpicking, travelling on foot, and the exhilaration of being shot at unsuccessfully. The below video is a great showcase of just how insane the decisions made by Werner Herzog were.

Outside of his dramatic films, Herzog is equally known for his documentaries, with his distinctive voice and somewhat bizarre musings creating some truly unique moments, the most bizarre for me being during Encounters at the End of the World when he, reluctantly, films some penguins which turns into a look at, for lack of a better term, penguin prostitution and a penguin walking off to its death, with Herzog’s voice being used in a parody of this in The Penguins of Madagascar. For Herzog, his documentaries mostly focus on the power of nature and the relationship between people and nature, along with explorations of how people react to their own mortality, with his documentaries looking at such eclectic subjects as the death penalty, cave paintings, the rainforest and people living with bears, with the last one being one of the few times Herzog was disturbed making one of his films when he heard the audio of the death of Timothy Treadwell. For his dramatic films meanwhile, Herzog has a pretty daring approach, his biopics, such as Fitzcarraldo and Rescue Dawn looking at unique, horrifying experiences and even when he does remakes, he twists the films to fit his own vision, even declaring that he didn’t watch Bad Lieutenant when he made Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans as it was unnecessary for his own vision.

Now as usual I’m looking for any pieces you’ve done on the films of Werner Herzog, narrative or documentary. In case you need a reminder, below are all of the films of Herzog you can cover:

  • Signs of Life
  • Even Dwarfs Started Small
  • Fata Morgana
  • Land of Silence and Darkness
  • Aguirre, The Wrath of God
  • The Great Ecstasy of Woodcarver Steiner
  • The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser
  • Heart of Glass
  • Stroszek
  • Nosferatu the Vampyre
  • Woyzeck
  • Fitzcarraldo
  • Where The Green Ants Dream
  • Cobra Verde
  • Echos From a Somber Empire
  • Scream of Stone
  • Lessons of Darkness
  • Bells From The Deep
  • Little Dieter Needs to Fly
  • My Best Fiend
  • Invincible
  • Wheel of Time
  • The White Diamond
  • Grizzly Man
  • The Wild Blue Yonder
  • Rescue Dawn
  • Encounters at the End of the World
  • Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans
  • My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done
  • Happy People: A Year in the Taiga
  • Cave of Forgotten Dreams
  • Into the Abyss
  • Queen of the Desert
  • Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World
  • Salt and Fire
  • Into the Inferno

I look forward to reading what you send me on the films of Werner Herzog.