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Creator / Werner Herzog

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"There are deeper strata of truth in cinema, and there is such a thing as poetic, ecstatic truth. It is mysterious and elusive, and can be reached only through fabrication and imagination and stylization."
— "Minnesota Declaration", 1999

Werner Herzog (born September 5, 1942 in Munich as Werner Stipetić) is a German movie director and screenwriter who has emerged as the most successful of the German New Wave filmmakers. He has also dabbled in acting and voiceover work.

He is beloved on the arthouse circuit and with several mainstream successes under his belt, most notably with actor Klaus Kinski. His films, both fictional and documentary, are often slow and atmospheric, but are universally beautiful and human. Really, his films only have one subject - the infinite power of human will and the subsequent potential for self-destruction.

His official website can be found here.

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    Works he has directed: 

    Works he has appeared in: 

Werner Herzog's works provide examples of:

  • Achievements in Ignorance: He spent his childhood in a remote mountain village and had no idea there was such a thing as movies until age 11. When he finally was introduced to them, he thought they were real and thus got very upset at any mistakes he saw that none of his friends cared about, basically giving himself a crash course in the language of cinema.
  • Adam Westing: Herzog has a number of acting credits and is often playing either a parody of himself, such as in The Simpsons and Incident At Loch Ness, or using his very unique voice to play a very serious character saying totally ridiculous things. invoked
    • In The Boondocks he appears as himself filming documentary footage:
      "In Bavaria, we have a saying: Der Junge ist ja total bedient. It means This is the most depressing fucking kid I've ever met in my life."
    • Also in American Dad!, providing the closing narration for the episode "Ricky Spanish":
      "Two beautiful creatures trapped in a prison of another's design like a madman lost in a supermarket. One is freed while the other dies alone in a glass tomb, which used to contain farts."
    • In Rick and Morty, as an alien advisor criticizing the human race's obsession with penises:
      "I've dwelled among the humans, their entire culture is built around their penises. It is funny to say they are small. It is funny to say they are big. I've been at parties where humans have held bottles, pencils, thermoses in front of themselves and called out 'Hey look at me! I'm Mr. So-And-So Dick! I've got such-and-such for a penis!' I never saw it fail to get a laugh."
    • In Parks and Recreation he plays the owner of a former home for insane doll-head factory employees trying to sell the house to April and Andy.
      "After forty-seven years living here, I decided to move to Orlando to be closer to Disney World."
    • In Penguins of Madagascar, he plays a documentary filmmaker and plays up his reputation for dramatic narration and taking artistic license with his documentary subjects.
      Documentary Filmmaker: Antarctica, an inhospitable wasteland, but even here, on the Earth's frozen bottom, we find life. And not just any life: penguins. Joyous, frolicking, waddling, cute and cuddly life. Look at them, tumbling onto their chubby bum bums. Who could take these frisky snow-clowns...
  • Central Theme: Many of his films are centered around the infinite power of the human will and the subsequent potential for self-destruction.
  • Cold Ham: Herzog is known for his ability to deliver dramatic speeches with a quiet intensity, both in the voice-over for his documentaries and in his acting roles.
  • Creator Thumbprint: Many of his films feature men with strange abilities or obsessions, especially ones involving nature, and he has a notable hatred of chickens. In The Grand he plays a gambler with an obsession over his pet chicken.
  • Cuteness Overload: Reportedly, while filming The Mandalorian, he was moved to tears by his first sight of the Baby Yoda animatronic, calling it "heartbreakingly beautiful." Later, when the crew suggested doing a second take without the puppet in case it needed to be replaced with CGI, he denounced them as "cowards."
  • Documentary: His filmography includes several documentaries and one Mockumentary.
  • Doomed Expedition: He likes to explore humans getting lost in the wild.
  • Dramatisation: Unusually, his documentaries employ this. He freely admits to embellishing details in them, such as Dieter Dengler opening and closing doors obsessively in Little Dieter Wants To Fly - that was invented by Herzog for dramatic effect.
  • Eating Shoes: The documentary filmmaker Errol Morris was having trouble completing his debut feature Gates of Heaven. In order to provoke Morris into finishing the film, Herzog told Morris that he'd never finish it — but that if he did finish it, he, Herzog, would eat his own shoe. Morris finished the film. Herzog got the great Berkeley chef Alice Waters to cook his shoe in garlic, herbs and stock for five hours, and he ate it in public — except for the sole, because as he explained, you never eat the bones of the chicken. The whole thing was filmed by director Les Blank and released as the aptly-titled short documentary Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe.
  • He Also Did:
    • He acted in protegé Harmony Korine's Julien Donkey-Boy and Mister Lonely, and played the Big Bad in Jack Reacher, fulfilling a lifelong dream of playing a Bond villain-like character on film. Most recently, he's been cast as an Imperial remnant leader in The Mandalorian.
    • He's also written several books, most notably Of Walking In Ice, and claims that his prose will prove more important than his films.
  • Hostility on the Set: His friendship with his recurrent leading actor Klaus Kinski was... rocky, to say the least. Herzog made a film about their relationship titled, appropriately, My Best Fiend.
  • Large Ham: While his voice is generally calm and his diction even, the commentary he provides for his nature documentaries can come across as very melodramatic due to his tendency to narrate even the most mundane scenes in a very flowery, bombastic style.
  • Lemony Narrator: A common component of his Signature Style is the contrast between his over-the-top narration and the stark, genuine nature of the footage he is talking over.
    "[Subject] has a non-traditional method for fishing." *gunshot*
  • Nature Is Not Nice: Most notably in Grizzly Man, in which Herzog narrates about how beautiful Timothy Treadwell's footage is, while at the same time lambasting him for being so naive about it. Also a theme in Aguirre and Rescue Dawn.
    "Nature here is vile and base. I wouldn't see anything erotical here. I would see fornication and asphyxiation and choking and fighting for survival and growing and just rotting away. Of course, there's a lot of misery. But it is the same misery that is all around us. The trees here are in misery, and the birds are in misery. I don't think they sing, they just screech in pain."
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Always uses his regular voice in his acting roles and makes no effort to tone down his distinctive accent, even when playing characters who are not German. However, he usually gets a pass from audiences because his unique diction is one of his biggest trademarks and a major part of his appeal as a dramatic actor.
  • One for the Money; One for the Art: He ended up playing a role in The Mandalorian in order to fund a future project, although he did like the script and the role he ended up having.
  • Production Posse: Despite the above-mentioned Hostility on the Set, he and Kinski have collaborated with each other a lot until the latter's fatal heart attack.
  • Scenery Gorn: Lessons of Darkness is about the aftermath of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, with particular reference to the burning oil fields.
  • Scenery Porn: The man can photograph a scene. He has also stated that he has a thing for forests, in case that was not evident from his films.
  • Self-Deprecation: Perhaps somewhat unexpectedly, he appears to have a very good sense of humour about himself and is perfectly willing to lampoon his reputation as a hyper-intense Germanic semi-lunatic with a tendency to say very enigmatically dramatic and nihilistic things about nature and the human condition.
  • Sliding Scale of Cynicism Versus Idealism: His films are all over the place. From idealistic Fitzcarraldo to cynical Aguirre, the Wrath of God. Just comparing The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser to Stroszek can cause whiplash.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: One of the scenes of burning oil wells in Lessons of Darkness is soundtracked by "Siegfried's Funeral March" by Richard Wagner, which is rather more triumphant than you might expect from the title.
  • Writing by the Seat of Your Pants: Herzog strongly frowns upon using storyboards (referring to it as a tool of cowards) or shooting any excess footage in his films.