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The Genius of Werner Herzog

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The Genius of Werner Herzog

Old 02-19-07, 08:59 PM
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The Genius of Werner Herzog

I recently purchased the Herzog/Kinski box set and to say I was floored by the 6 movies within is an understatement. I had always heard of Herzog and particularly 'Aguirre' and 'Fitzcaraldo' but was surprised that the other movies were just as effecting. After watching the 5 movies within, I was in for the treat that was 'My Best Fiend' - a documentary that had me near tears at the end, with Kinski and the butterfly.

I think I could listen to Herzog speak all day and all night - what an interesting guy with tons of interesting thoughts to ponder.

Afterwards, I remembered that I had purchased 'Grizzly Man' and once again, I was floored. The story and the character evoked Kinski from the last documentary and the film was beautiful in appearance, content and sound. Simply a work of genius.

I have recently ordered the Herzog box set from Amazon and eagerly await it. Anyone know anything about the quality of films within? Any knowledge of where to get any other Herzog films that are in our region code? Comments?
Old 02-19-07, 09:34 PM
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A lot of the work that's not in those two boxes is available via his Documentary & Shorts box on his site:
http://www.wernerherzog.com/main/index.htm
Old 02-19-07, 10:55 PM
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Herzog is one of my favorite filmmakers. He once told me I should be a bouncer at a sex club instead of going to film school.
Old 02-20-07, 01:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Kerborus
I have recently ordered the Herzog box set from Amazon and eagerly await it. Anyone know anything about the quality of films within? Any knowledge of where to get any other Herzog films that are in our region code? Comments?
Herzog's an amazing filmmaker and a pretty remarkable individual. The Kinski movies are my favorites of his. In the other set, be prepared for some really experimental stuff. Some of it you may not like (I don't like it all), but I like having the box set. Some very non-traditional storytelling, but some of the footage is hypnotic. Some traditional "fictional" movies, some excellent documentaries, and some movies that blur the line between the two types of movie. Even if you don't like all the movies, there are still many Herzog commentaries, and he's fascinating to listen too.

Herzog has another fiction feature, Invincible, that was quietly released in 2001 starring Tim Roth. Not his best, but still worth seeing. A few of his docs have separate DVD releases (do a "Werner Herzog" search at places like Amazon to see them all). Related Herzog DVDs are "Burden of Dreams" - an award-winning documentary about the making of Fitzcaraldo, with a special Criterion release, included a short doc where Herzog makes good on a bet to eat his shoes if a colleague ever finally completed his movie. "Incident at Loch Ness" is very worth checking out, especially now that you know a bit about Herzog and his films. Not a film by Herzog, per se, but a film about him trying to make a documentary about the Loch Ness monster.
Old 02-20-07, 01:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Suprmallet
Herzog is one of my favorite filmmakers. He once told me I should be a bouncer at a sex club instead of going to film school.
Sometimes we all need to be given some honest and direct advice. I can only imagine what impression you made on him
Old 02-20-07, 02:35 AM
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All I said was that I was going to film school, and that was the first thing he said!

Amazing filmmaker, though.
Old 02-20-07, 09:28 AM
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White diamond is great.

Can't wait for this one:
http://www.apple.com/trailers/mgm/rescuedawn/hd/
Old 02-20-07, 09:45 AM
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Herzog definitely has unique sensibilities as a filmmaker. I just saw 4 of his films over the weekend at a retrospective: Lessons in Darkness (1992), La Soufrière (1977), Wheel of Time (2003), and Wild Blue Yonder (2005).

None are narrative based works, all 4 use documentary-like footage, but really only Wheel of Time (about Buddhist initiation rites) can really qualify as a doc. And even that is still full of Herzog's unique perspective and commentary. They are simply (but not simple) films.

Originally Posted by brainee
...Herzog has another fiction feature, Invincible, that was quietly released in 2001 starring Tim Roth...
Invincible is still one of the more memorable films I've seen this decade. Not just for Herzog's direction, but for Tim Roth's amazing performance. I hadn't seen better acting all year.
Old 02-20-07, 09:55 AM
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anyone see that parody of 'Grizzly Man' on youtube - goddamn, that's funny.
Old 02-20-07, 01:03 PM
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Originally Posted by brainee
Herzog's an amazing filmmaker and a pretty remarkable individual. The Kinski movies are my favorites of his. In the other set, be prepared for some really experimental stuff. Some of it you may not like (I don't like it all), but I like having the box set. Some very non-traditional storytelling, but some of the footage is hypnotic. Some traditional "fictional" movies, some excellent documentaries, and some movies that blur the line between the two types of movie. Even if you don't like all the movies, there are still many Herzog commentaries, and he's fascinating to listen too.

Herzog has another fiction feature, Invincible, that was quietly released in 2001 starring Tim Roth. Not his best, but still worth seeing. A few of his docs have separate DVD releases (do a "Werner Herzog" search at places like Amazon to see them all). Related Herzog DVDs are "Burden of Dreams" - an award-winning documentary about the making of Fitzcaraldo, with a special Criterion release, included a short doc where Herzog makes good on a bet to eat his shoes if a colleague ever finally completed his movie. "Incident at Loch Ness" is very worth checking out, especially now that you know a bit about Herzog and his films. Not a film by Herzog, per se, but a film about him trying to make a documentary about the Loch Ness monster.


Pretty much what I was going to post... There's one in the Herzog box that I did not care for at all (Heart of Glass), a few that I loved (Little Dieter Needs To Fly, Stroszek and to a lesser extent The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser) and the rest are solid (though Fata Morgana and Lessons of Darkness tend to drag a bit for this viewer). I would definitely recommend checking out Invincible, I was surprised (though I shouldn't have been) at how good that film is.
Old 02-20-07, 01:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Johnny Zhivago
Pretty much what I was going to post... There's one in the Herzog box that I did not care for at all (Heart of Glass), a few that I loved (Little Dieter Needs To Fly, Stroszek and to a lesser extent The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser) and the rest are solid (though Fata Morgana and Lessons of Darkness tend to drag a bit for this viewer).
That's pretty much my breakdown as well. Stroszek is by far the most accessible "narrative" movie (though it gets a bit odd at the end), and Dieter is an outstanding doc. It's no surprise that all the actors in Heart of Glass were hypotized, because that's how it feels. An interesting filmmaking experiment, but one that didn't completely work for me. I competely understand about Fata Morgana and Lessons of Darkness dragging. They kind of require the viewer to get caught up in the flow of images, with no regard for storytelling. There's a hypnotic element to them, though it could easily drift into sleep-inducing boredom for some. And there's Even Dwarves Started Small, which didn't do much for me. It may have been the first Herzog movie I ever saw too, since I was attracted to it from its reputation as a cult-horror movie (critics compared it to Freaks). I didn't see much of Freaks in it. Mainly, I just saw 90 minutes of dwarves breaking stuff. There's one long stretch where all the camera does is focus on a giggling dwarf - for minutes on end. Herzog is unapologetic though (as he should be). He's making movies with the purest possible artistic motives, and he's experimenting. One common thing I notice in many Herzog movies is that when he finds an image fascinating (for whatever reason), he has no problems with letting the camera stay on it until he tires of it. Like the dancing chicken in Stroszek, the landing planes in Fata Morgana, the giggling dwarf, the girl's song in Cobra Verde. It's the polar opposite of the fast-cut editing MTV mentality so many modern movies employ.

Herzog seems to put so much of his own personality into his movies, and the things you hear about him outside filmmaking aren't surprising. Like the recent stories of him saving Joaquin Phoenix from a car wreck (and dashing off before he could even be thanked) and taking a bullet during an interview (shrugging it off with "It was not a significant bullet"). If there were real masked superheroes in the world, I'd have no doubt that Werner Herzog was the secret identity of one of them.
Old 02-20-07, 02:32 PM
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As much as I love Herzog, it seems like he has unfortunately become the new hot director to love, for whatever reason. Don't get me wrong, it's great that people are seeing these films, but it just seems odd to me that he would become a hot director for hipsters all of a sudden. I think he is a great director, but definitely the least of the Big 3 in New German Cinema, falling behind Wenders and Fassbinder. Did the success of Grizzly Man have something to do with opening people's eyes to Herzog?
Old 02-20-07, 02:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Jackson_Browne
Did the success of Grizzly Man have something to do with opening people's eyes to Herzog?
are you being rhetorical?

but yes. I believe so.
Old 02-20-07, 03:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Jackson_Browne
As much as I love Herzog, it seems like he has unfortunately become the new hot director to love, for whatever reason. Don't get me wrong, it's great that people are seeing these films, but it just seems odd to me that he would become a hot director for hipsters all of a sudden. I think he is a great director, but definitely the least of the Big 3 in New German Cinema, falling behind Wenders and Fassbinder. Did the success of Grizzly Man have something to do with opening people's eyes to Herzog?
I agree that Grizzly Man introduced a new generation to Herzog. And I think these DVD box sets play a big role too. In all the sales (you can frequently get them in 2F1 deals), I notice many people blind buying them. I think its a discredit to label people "hipsters" for discovering Herzog now. It implies that they're not really watching because they like Herzog, but because they want to impress others.

Personally, I rank Herzog above Wenders and Fassbinder. Wenders has some rather mediocre films in his catalog, and while I respect Fassbinder's movies I don't particularly care for them. Fassbinder does have the "advantage" (I know, bad use of the term, but you know what I mean) of dying young, so we can't judge how he would've been able to maintain his vitality over the 80s/90s/00s.
Old 02-20-07, 03:28 PM
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I haven't seen a Herzog film I haven't liked, and I believe both box sets are filled with amazing films. My favorites in the Anchor Bay Werner Herzog box are Fata Morgana, Stroszek, and Heart of Glass. Even Dwarfs Started Small is indeed 90 minutes of Dwarfs smashing things, but its interesting. I hated it as I was watching it unfold, but after seeing the complete picture, I was absolutely enamored by it. The images stayed with me, and not just because of their exploitive nature. I will admit it is his hardest film to watch, because it seems slightly repetitive, and doesn't exactly fall into any narrative ever. But it burns itself into your conscious, like many of his features have a tendency to do. The Fata Morgana/Lessons disc is interesting, don't go in with heavy expectations. There are image films. Herzog calls them Science-Fiction films, and judging by atmosphere they are. The world he captures does appear alien, although you may have seen parts of it before. Heart of Glass is a love/hate type of film, I love it. It's slow, and strange, and very very beautiful.

If you liked the Kinski set, you'll prob like this set. I'd start with the Bruno S. films Strosek, and The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser, they're the most accessible, and Bruno has a very interesting personality that translates well to the screen.
Old 02-20-07, 03:49 PM
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Originally Posted by brainee
I agree that Grizzly Man introduced a new generation to Herzog. And I think these DVD box sets play a big role too. In all the sales (you can frequently get them in 2F1 deals), I notice many people blind buying them. I think its a discredit to label people "hipsters" for discovering Herzog now. It implies that they're not really watching because they like Herzog, but because they want to impress others.
Well put
Old 02-20-07, 06:09 PM
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Originally Posted by brainee
I agree that Grizzly Man introduced a new generation to Herzog. And I think these DVD box sets play a big role too. In all the sales (you can frequently get them in 2F1 deals), I notice many people blind buying them. I think its a discredit to label people "hipsters" for discovering Herzog now. It implies that they're not really watching because they like Herzog, but because they want to impress others.
I didn't meant to imply that everyone buying these sets all of a sudden are hipsters - I think I said it wrong in my earlier post. My reference to hipsters was more of a personal observation of some friends and acquaintances of mine that like the typical indie movies most college students like (Eternal Sunshine, etc.) that all of a sudden worship Werner Herzog out of the blue. Well, maybe not out of the blue, but at least for Grizzly Man.

I wish they would keep exploring world cinema and not just stop with Herzog like most of them seem to be doing. I think Herzog makes for a great intro into classic world cinema. It's a lot like the public's obsession with Johnny Cash in the last couple of years since his death and Walk the Line came out. More people are listening to his music than ever before. That's great. Just don't stop there. There's so much other great classic country music out there that these people aren't checking out for some reason - Merle Haggard, George Jones, Hank Williams, Willie Nelson, etc., all of whom are equally good if not better than Cash, IMO.
Old 02-21-07, 10:22 PM
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I'm 32, so not quite a hipster and my journey through film started in earnest about 10 years ago. I for one, came across Herzog for two reasons - I collect films of a series of 'greatest movies' lists and also because of the box sets that keep getting released.

Fitzcarroldo and Aguirre kept coming up over and over in my research for great movies to watch and I first heard of Herzog when Burden of Dreams came to Criterion. I collect and own all of the Criterions (except 3, urgh!) so my personal interest in foreign films started a while ago with Fellini, Kurosawa, and Bergman. From there, it has really blossomed out into basically anything I can get my hands onto.

Not sure what to make of your percieved irritability of Herzog's greatness, but it is well deserved for him and worth fans lingering on, IMHO.

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