Werner Herzog is a well-known German filmmaker, producer, actor, and screenwriter. With films such as “Aguirre: The Wrath of God,” “Fitzcarraldo,” and “Rescue Dawn,” he has received international acclaim and success. Aside from working on film projects, he is a well-known figure in the world of documentaries, having directed several of them, including the well-known “Into the Abyss.” He never grew up watching television or even seeing films as a child, and yet he has become one of the world’s most prominent directors/screenwriters, with over 50 films to his credit. In addition to acting, directing, and writing for the big screen, he has written more than a dozen books of prose and directed nearly as many operas. He was a close aide and associate of the peculiar Klaus Kinski, and he is regarded as the only director who has ever worked with Klaus. Along with legends such as Wilm Wenders, Margarethe von Trotta, and Rainer Werner Fassbinder, he is regarded as one of the most important figures in the “New German Cinema.”His movies often have heroes who have weird dreams, weird skills, or who are having a hard time with their surroundings.
Childhood and Adolescence
Werner Herzog Stipeti was born in Munich, Germany, on September 5, 1942, to Dietrich Herzog and Elizabeth Stipeti. After their house was bombed during WWII, the family was forced to relocate to a Bavarian village.
When Herzog was twelve, the family returned to Munich. He is said to have been an extremely adamant child in school, refusing to play an instrument or sing in class, which nearly resulted in his expulsion from the institute. He became interested in filmmaking when he was 14 years old.
He stole a 35mm camera from the Munich Film School and began filming everything he saw. He was offered a scholarship to Duquesne University in Pennsylvania. Instead, he chose to go to the University of Munich, which is more well-known than Duquesne.
He traveled extensively, which influenced his later filmmaking. He worked as a welder in a steel factory in the 1960s. This enabled him to finance his first film. “Herakles,” his first fiction short film, was directed during this time.
He briefly worked in television under NASA sponsorship in 1966.
In 1968, he directed his first film, “Signs of Life,” based on World War II, which was a critical and commercial success. Later, the film was shown at the 18th Berlin International Film Festival, where it also won an important award. The following year, he directed “The Flying Doctors of East Africa,” a documentary feature film.
Even “Even Dwarfs Started Small,” a horror-comedy-drama film made on a shoestring budget of $200,000, was directed by him in 1970. The following year, he made his acting debut in the film “Geschichten vom Kübelkind.”
He made two critically acclaimed documentary feature films in 1971, “Land of Silence and Darkness” and “Handicapped Future.” The following year, he directed “Fata Morgana” and his critically acclaimed film “Aguirre, The Wrath of God.”
He directed a number of feature films between 1974 and 1980, including “The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser,” “Heart of Glass,” “Nosferatu the Vampyre,” and “Woyzeck.”
In 1982, he directed “Fitzcarraldo,” one of the greatest films of all time, starring one of the most difficult actors of the time, Klaus Kinski. The story of the baron, Carlos Fitzcarrald, inspired the film.
In 1987, he directed “Cobra Verde,” a film based on Bruce Chatwin’s novel “The Viceroy of Ouidah.”
He directed a number of successful films in the 1990s, including “Scream of Stone” and “Lessons of Darkness.” He also directed documentaries such as “Echoes from a Somber Empire,” “Jag Mandir,” “Bells from the Deep,” “Gesualdo: Death for Five Voices,” and “My Best Friend.”
He also appeared in films such as “Hard to Be a God,” “What Dreams May Come,” and “Julien Donkey-Boy” in the 1990s. He directed operas such as’ La Donna del Lago, ”The Flying Dutchman, ‘and’ The Magic Flute, ‘to name a few.
Invincible, “a drama film starring Tim Roth, Anna Gourari, and Max Raabe, was written and directed by him in 2001. Even though the movie was rated low, it became a big hit because of its great soundtrack.
In 2009, he became the first filmmaker in recent history to have both of his films accepted at the Venice Film Festival in the same year. One was “The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans,” an American crime drama, and the other was “My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done?”
He was the chief guest at the 15th International Film Festival in Kerala, India, in 2010. The same year, he finished his documentary, “Cave of Forgotten Dreams,” about a trip to Chauvet Cave in France. Another of his documentaries, titled “Happy People: A Year in the Taiga,” premiered at the Telluride Film Festival the same year.
In 2011, it was announced that he would direct a film based on the life of the explorer, titled “Gertrude Bell,” starring Naomi Watts, Robert Pattinson, and Jude Law.
In 2013, he cast Nicole Kidman in the role of Gertrude Bell in his film “Queen of the Desert,” replacing Watts.
One of this director’s most important works is “Aguirre, the Wrath of God,” which was released in 1972. This illustrious director also wrote the adventure film. This was the first of five collaborations between the director and Klaus Kinski. The film debuted to widespread critical acclaim and is now regarded as one of the director’s most well-known works. This film was named on Time magazine’s list of the “100 Best Films of All Time.” The film also influenced Francis Ford Coppola’s classic, “Apocalypse Now.”
Achievements and Awards
For “Signs of Life,” he received the Jury’s Silver Bear Extraordinary Prize.
He won the “Best Director” award for “Fitzcarraldo” in 1982.
He and his half-brother, Lucki Stipeti, won the Bavarian Film Award for “Best Producing” for the film “Cobra Verde.”