09-04-2011

33 MIFF presents: Werner Herzog retrospective

His name is usually associated with New German Cinema, a group of such directors as Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Alexander Kluge, Volker Schlöndorff, Margarethe von Trotta and Wim Wenders, who in 1962 reacted against the artistic and economic stagnation of German cinema in determination to build a new industry founded on artistic excellence rather than commercial demand. Anyhow today Werner Herzog refers to this movement as a fiction. It doesn’t mean that the internationally recognized artist left the grounds of his home culture as well as he ignores the present since many of his films, like The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser, Aguirre, the Wrath of God and Fitzcarraldo are set in the past.

Extravagant characters, heroes obsessed with impossible dreams, people in distant places confronting wild nature are not only the subject of his films, but to some degree reflect the auteur’s ego. This may be exemplified by documentary Burden of Dreams, made him when shooting Fitzcarraldo.

Though he resides in Los-Angeles now, Werner Herzog has been always on the move (“I’m a moving target”, - he jokes) since that time when he covered on foot 500 km from Munich to Paris to inspire his dear friend, dying film theorist Lotte Eisner. Every his journey is purposeful. One of the latest appeared especially remarkable: Herzog was chosen the only filmmaker on earth to capture on film the paintings on the murals of the Chauvet Pont d’Arc cave in southern France – the oldest drawings in the world. For the sake of their retention the entrance to the cave is closed, and the unique Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams in 3D will secure these images for mankind forever.

It should be noted that Herzog is not only film director, producer, screenwriter, actor but also opera director – that’s why no wonder, that his creative style and wide scope of interests is often characterized as Wagnerian. Profound seriousness neighbours in his works with ludicrous, elevated with common, and the one of the greatest world directors in the year of his 70th jubilee didn’t hesitate to appear in one episodes of the Simpsons (2011) starring in the role of a German pharma industrialist.

The director’s choice consists of his best and last:


Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes (1972)

Jeder für sich und Gott gegen alle (1974)

Herz aus Glas (1976)

Stroszek (1977)

Woyzeck (1979)

Fitzcarraldo (1982)

Wo die grünen Ameisen träumen (1984)

Cobra Verde (1987)

The White Diamond (2004)

The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call - New Orleans (2009)

My Son My Son What Have Ye Done (2009)

Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2011)