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Werner Herzog, 2009
|Born||Werner Herzog Stipetić|
5 September 1942
|Occupation||Director, producer, screenwriter, actor, narrator|
Werner Herzog, 2009
|Born||Werner Herzog Stipetić|
5 September 1942
|Occupation||Director, producer, screenwriter, actor, narrator|
Werner Herzog Stipetić (German: [ˈʋɛɐ̯nɐ ˈhɛɐ̯tsoːk ˈstɪpɛtɪt͡ʃ]; born 5 September 1942), known as Werner Herzog, is a German film director, producer, screenwriter, author, actor and opera director.
Herzog is considered one of the greatest figures of the New German Cinema, along with Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Margarethe von Trotta, Volker Schlöndorff, Werner Schröter, and Wim Wenders. Herzog's films often feature heroes with impossible dreams, people with unique talents in obscure fields, or individuals who are in conflict with nature. French filmmaker François Truffaut once called Herzog "the most important film director alive." American film critic Roger Ebert said that Herzog "has never created a single film that is compromised, shameful, made for pragmatic reasons or uninteresting. Even his failures are spectacular."
Herzog was born Werner Herzog Stipetić to a German father, Dietrich Herzog, and a Croatian mother, Elizabeth Stipetić, in Munich. His family moved to the remote Bavarian village of Sachrang (in the Chiemgau Alps), after the house next to theirs was destroyed during a bombing raid at the close of World War II. When Herzog was 12, he and his family moved back to Munich. His father had abandoned the family early in his youth. Werner later adopted his father's surname Herzog (German for "duke"), which he thought sounded more impressive for a filmmaker.
The same year, Herzog was told to sing in front of his class at school, and he adamantly refused. He was almost expelled. Until he was age eighteen, Herzog listened to no music, sang no songs, and studied no instruments. He later said that he would easily give ten years from his life to be able to play an instrument. At fourteen, he was inspired by an encyclopedia entry about filmmaking, which he says provided him with "everything I needed to get myself started" as a filmmaker—that, and the 35 mm camera he stole from the Munich Film School. In the commentary for Aguirre, the Wrath of God, he says, "I don't consider it theft—it was just a necessity—I had some sort of natural right for a camera, a tool to work with." He won a scholarship to Duquesne University and lasted but three days, but lived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania creating documentaries for NASA with WQED. Eventually, he chose to study at the University of Munich. While in his teens, Herzog traveled to various exotic places.
In the early 1960s, Herzog worked nightshifts as a welder in a steel factory to help fund his first films. Before leaving school, he bought a house in the UK, in what was likely the Moss Side area of Manchester. There he learned to speak English. In 1966 he worked briefly in television under the auspices of NASA.
In 1971, while Herzog was location scouting for Aguirre, the Wrath of God in Peru, he narrowly avoided taking LANSA Flight 508. Herzog's reservation was canceled due to a last-minute change in itinerary. The plane was later struck by lightning and disintegrated, but one survivor lived after a free fall. Long haunted by the event, nearly 30 years later he made a documentary film Wings of Hope (2000) about it, which explored the story of the sole survivor Juliane Koepcke.
Besides using professional actors—German, American and otherwise—Herzog is known for using people from the locality in which he is shooting. Especially in his documentaries, he uses locals to benefit what he calls "ecstatic truth." He uses footage of the non-actors both playing roles and being themselves.
Herzog and his films have been nominated for and won many awards. His first major award was the Silver Bear Extraordinary Prize of the Jury for his first feature film Signs of Life (Nosferatu the Vampyre was also nominated for Golden Bear in 1979). Most notably, Herzog won the best director award for Fitzcarraldo at the 1982 Cannes Film Festival. In 1975, his movie The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser won The Special Jury Prize (also known as the 'Silver Palm') at the Cannes Festival. Other films directed by Herzog nominated for Golden Palm are: Woyzeck and Where the Green Ants Dream.
His films were nominated at many other important festivals around the world: César Awards (Aguirre, the Wrath of God), Emmy Awards (Little Dieter Needs to Fly), European Film Awards (My Best Fiend) and Venice Film Festival (Scream of Stone and The Wild Blue Yonder).
In 1987, Herzog and his half-brother Lucki Stipetić won the Bavarian Film Award for Best Producing for the film Cobra Verde. In 2002 he won the Dragon of Dragons Honorary Award during Kraków Film Festival in Kraków.
Herzog was honored at the 49th San Francisco International Film Festival, receiving the 2006 Film Society Directing Award. Four of his films have been shown at the San Francisco International Film Festival: Wodaabe - Herdsmen of the Sun in 1990, Bells from the Deep in 1993, Lessons of Darkness in 1993, and The Wild Blue Yonder in 2006. Herzog's April 2007 appearance at the Ebertfest in Champaign, Illinois earned him the Golden Thumb Award, and an engraved glockenspiel given to him by a young film maker inspired by his films. Grizzly Man, directed by Herzog, won the Alfred P. Sloan Prize at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival. Encounters at the End of the World won the award for Best Documentary at the 2008 Edinburgh International Film Festival and was nominated for the Academy Award for Documentary Feature, Herzog's first nomination.
Herzog once promised to eat his shoe if Errol Morris completed the movie project on pet cemeteries that he had been working on, in order to challenge and motivate Morris, whom Herzog perceived as incapable of following up on the projects he conceived. In 1978, when the film Gates of Heaven premiered, Werner Herzog cooked and publicly ate his shoe, an event later incorporated into a short documentary Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe by Les Blank. At the event, Herzog suggested that he hoped the act would serve to encourage anyone having difficulty bringing a project to fruition.
In 2009, Herzog became the only filmmaker in recent history to enter two films in competition in the same year at the prestigious Venice Film Festival. Herzog's The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans was entered into the festival's official competition schedule, and his My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done? entered the competition as a "surprise film". Herzog also provided the narration for the short film Plastic Bag directed by Ramin Bahrani which was the opening night film in the Corto Cortissimo section of the festival.
Herzog is also a jury member for the digital studio Filmaka, a platform for undiscovered filmmakers to show their work to industry professionals.
Herzog was the president of the jury at the 60th Berlin International Film Festival. He was the chief guest of the 15th International Film Festival of Kerala in December 2010.
Herzog also lent his voice to the animated television program The Boondocks in the third season premiere episode "It's a Black President, Huey Freeman" in which he played himself filming a documentary about the series' cast of characters and their actions during the 2008 election of Barack Obama. He also played Walter Hotenhoffer (formerly known as Augustus Gloop) in the Simpsons episode The Scorpion's Tale which aired in March 2011.
Herzog completed a documentary called Cave of Forgotten Dreams in 2010, which shows his journey into the Chauvet Cave in France. Although generally skeptical of 3-D film as a format, Herzog premiered the film at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival in 3-D and had its European premiere at the 2011 Berlinale.
Also in 2010, Herzog's documentary Happy People: A Year in the Taiga, which portrays the life of fur trappers from the Siberian part of the Taiga, had its premiere at the 2010 Telluride Film Festival.
In 2011 Herzog competed with Ridley Scott for making a film based around the life of explorer Gertrude Bell. In 2012, it was confirmed that Herzog would start production on his long-in-development project in March 2013 in Morocco with Naomi Watts to play Gertrude Bell along with Robert Pattinson to play T. E. Lawrence and Jude Law to play Henry Cadogan. Herzog also gained attention in 2013 when he released a short Public Service Announcement-style documentary, It Can Wait, demonstrating the danger of texting while driving and financed by AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile.
On October 21, 2013, it was announced that Herzog had secured Nicole Kidman to replace Watts for the role of Gertrude Bell in his film Queen of the Desert, with Damian Lewis playing Lt. Col. Charles Doughty-Wylie. Production was slated to begin in December 2013.
Herzog's films have received considerable critical acclaim and achieved popularity on the art house circuit. They have also been the subject of controversy in regard to their themes and messages, especially the circumstances surrounding their creation. A notable example is Fitzcarraldo, in which the obsessiveness of the central character was reflected by the director during the making of the film. Burden of Dreams, a documentary filmed during the making of Fitzcarraldo, explored the travails that Herzog undertook to make the film in harsh conditions.
His treatment of subjects has been characterized as Wagnerian in its scope, and Fitzcarraldo and his later film Invincible (2001) are directly inspired by opera, or operatic themes. He is proud of never using storyboards and often improvising large parts of the script. He explains this technique in the commentary track to Aguirre, the Wrath of God.
Herzog preferred to develop a team to work with, both of actors and technical people. He gathered a group who appeared in numerous films.
Thomas Mauch worked with Herzog on ten films: starting with Signs of Life and Last Words and ending with Fitzcarraldo. He helped to create hallucinogenic atmosphere in Aguirre and realistic style of Stroszek. Mauch won Film Award in Gold and National Society of Film Critics Awards for Aguirre. He was Herzog's first choice to be cinematographer during Cobra Verde. After excessive verbal abuse from Klaus Kinski, Mauch walked out of the project. That was Mauch and Herzog's final collaboration.
Jörg Schmidt-Reitwein worked with Herzog on seventeen films. Reitwein was Thomas Mauch's assistant camera during Even Dwarfs Started Small. His first independent work for Herzog was Precautions Against Fanatics in 1969. He helped to create poetical atmosphere of Fata Morgana, Heart of Glass, The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser and Nosferatu. He won the Film Award in Gold for Heart of Glass and Where the Green Ants Dream at the German Film Awards. He last collaborated with Herzog during Pilgrimage in 2001.
Peter Zeitlinger collaborated with Herzog on thirteen films, from Gesualdo: Death for Five Voices (1995) to the television documentary Death Row (2011), including Rescue Dawn and Grizzly Man. He was nominated for the Independent Spirit Award for Bad Lieutenant. Port of Call: New Orleans in 2009.
Walter Saxer produced sixteen of Herzog's films, including Nosferatu and The White Diamond. He worked as Sound Department during seven of Herzog's films, including The Great Ecstasy of Woodcarver Steiner and Echoes from a Somber Empire. He co-wrote Scream of Stone which Herzog directed. Saxer appeared as himself in Herzog's My Best Fiend and in Les Blank's Burden of Dreams, in which he was also subjected to the verbal abuse of Kinski.
Lucki Stipetić is Herzog's half-brother, and he produced several Herzog films, including Aguirre and Invincible. He is a head of Werner Herzog Productions. He won the Bavarian Film Award in 1988 for Cobra Verde and International Documentary Association Award for Little Dieter Needs to Fly in 1998. He was also nominated for an Emmy Award in 1998.
André Singer worked either as an executive producer or producer on eight of Herzog’s documentaries, starting with “Lessons of Darkness” in 1991, “The Wild Blue Yonder.” He won the International Critics Award at the Venice Film Festival, 2006. He worked on the recent “La Boheme, short” (2009), and “Into the Abyss”/”Death Row”, 2011.
Beate Mainka-Jellinghaus worked with Herzog on twenty films, from Signs of Life and Last Words (both from 1968) to Where the Green Ants Dream (1984). She won Film Award in Gold during German Film Awards for The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser in 1975.
Joe Bini has collaborated with Herzog on nineteen films, from Little Dieter Needs to Fly (1997) to Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2009). He was nominated by American Cinema Editors for Best Edited Documentary Film for Grizzly Man in 2005.
Ann Poppel collaborated with Herzog on four films, including Nosferatu the Vampyre and Scream of Stone. Gisela Storch worked with Herzog on six films: The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser, Heart of Glass, Nosferatu the Vampyre, Woyzeck, Fitzcarraldo and Cobra Verde. She was nominated for a Saturn Award for Nosferatu the Vampyre in 1979.
German Krautrock band Popol Vuh, founded by pianist and keyboardist Florian Fricke, have composed music for eight Herzog's films: Aguirre, the Wrath of God, The Great Ecstasy of Woodcarver Steiner, Heart of Glass, Nosferatu, The Dark Glow of the Mountains, Fitzcarraldo, Cobra Verde and My Best Fiend. Their compositions were also used by Herzog in Rescue Dawn. Florian Fricke made a cameo as a pianist in Signs of Life and The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser. The band took its name from the Popol Vuh, a manuscript of the Quiché Maya kingdom. They had seen Herzog's Fata Morgana, in which Lotte Eisner reads parts of the Popol Vuh.
Since 2001, for orchestral scores Herzog mostly chooses Klaus Badelt. The first of so far four collaborations, "Invincible" (2001) was actually one of Badelt's first film scores. Badelt also wrote the scores to "Rescue Dawn" (2006), "Happy People: A Year in the Taiga" (2010), and is currently working on Herzog's upcoming feature "Queen of the Desert" (2015).
Herzog has invited Ernst Reijseger to compose scores to four of his films. Two were documentaries (The White Diamond and Cave of Forgotten Dreams) and two were features (The Wild Blue Yonder and My Son, My Son What Have Ye Done). His music was also used in Rescue Dawn and in a video documentary about recording music for Grizzly Man. It ws entitled In the Edges: The 'Grizzly Man' Session directed by Erik Nelson. Reijseger also had a cameo in My Son, My Son What Have Ye Done.
Henning von Gierke collaborated with Herzog on seven films and several operas. He was Production Designer during The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser, Nosferatu the Vampyre and Fitzcarraldo. As a Set Decorator he worked on Heart of Glass and Woyzeck, as Stage Designer on operas: Lohengrin and Giovanna d'Arco, and as Costume Designer on film - The Transformation of the World Into Music. Gierke shot additional still photographs on Stroszek 's set. He appeared twice in Herzog's film The Transformation of the World Into Music as himself and in Herzog's TV realisation of the opera Giovanna d'Arco. Von Gierke won Film Award in Gold for The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser during German Film Awards and Silver Bear for an outstanding single achievement for Nosferatu, at the 29th Berlin International Film Festival.
Herzog has been married three times and has three children, one from an outside relationship. In 1967, he married Martje Grohmann, with whom he had a son Rudolph Amos Achmed, born in 1973. He has become a film producer and director, and has written several non-fiction books. In 1987, Herzog was divorced from Grohmann.
After his divorce, in 1987 he married Christine Maria Ebenberger. Their son, Simon Herzog, was born in 1989. He attended Columbia University. Herzog and Ebenberger divorced in 1994.
Films written, not directed, by Herzog:
Herzog has written all his films, except these which he co-wrote:
Herzog has also co-written:
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