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Werner Herzog

Werner Herzog

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Also Known As: Werner Stipetic Died:
Born: September 5, 1942 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Germany Profession: director, producer, screenwriter, actor, parking lot attendant, dock worker, welder

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

A study in both controversy and contradictions, filmmaker Werner Herzog, more than any of his peers, embodied German history, character and cultural richness in his work, while at the same time challenging previous conventions. Yet unlike his contemporaries Fassbinder, Wenders and Schlondorff, Herzog never set a significant film in his own country in his own time. Instead, his restless nature took him far and wide across the world, while his journeys to the edge of inner psychosis provided the impetus for a brand of filmmaking renowned for its physical demands on everyone involved. While growing up in the shadow of Nazi atrocities may have prompted him to probe the darker aspects of human behavior, Herzog developed a paradoxical style of realism that was part of a vision that combined 20th century Expressionism with 19th century Romanticism. Unifying these disparate elements was his elevation of the grotesque and chaotic, first by casting non-professional actors like former mental patient Bruno S. in "Stroszek" (1977), then by his tumultuous, almost violent collaboration with the explosive actor Klaus Kinski. It was with Kinski that Herzog created his finest work - "Aguirre, Wrath of God" (1972),...

A study in both controversy and contradictions, filmmaker Werner Herzog, more than any of his peers, embodied German history, character and cultural richness in his work, while at the same time challenging previous conventions. Yet unlike his contemporaries Fassbinder, Wenders and Schlondorff, Herzog never set a significant film in his own country in his own time. Instead, his restless nature took him far and wide across the world, while his journeys to the edge of inner psychosis provided the impetus for a brand of filmmaking renowned for its physical demands on everyone involved. While growing up in the shadow of Nazi atrocities may have prompted him to probe the darker aspects of human behavior, Herzog developed a paradoxical style of realism that was part of a vision that combined 20th century Expressionism with 19th century Romanticism. Unifying these disparate elements was his elevation of the grotesque and chaotic, first by casting non-professional actors like former mental patient Bruno S. in "Stroszek" (1977), then by his tumultuous, almost violent collaboration with the explosive actor Klaus Kinski. It was with Kinski that Herzog created his finest work - "Aguirre, Wrath of God" (1972), "Nosferatu the Vampyre" (1979) and "Fitzcarraldo" (1982) - while at the same time creating ugly off-camera battles that became the stuff of cinema legend. Whether he was threatening to shoot Kinski with a rifle or briefly contemplating an offer by native South Americans to have the actor killed, Herzog's volatile relationship with Kinski took both a physical and mental toll on both. While Herzog settled into calmer waters directing such acclaimed documentaries as "White Diamond" (2004) and the Oscar-nominated "Grizzly Man" (2005) following Kinski's death in 1991, he never reached such creative and manic heights again.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1954:
After parents separation, moved to Munich with mother and two brothers
1957:
Began submitting film ideas to producers at age 14
1962:
Received prizes for two amateur shorts "Herakles" (1962) and "Spiel im Sand" (1964)
1966:
Established Werner Herzog Film production
1967:
Directed third short "Die beispiellose Verteidigung der Festung Deutschkreuz"
1968:
Helmed short film "Letzte Worte/Last Words"
1968:
First full length film "Leibenszeichen/Signs of Life" won the German National Film award for first feature
1970:
Helmed second feature "Even Dwarfs Started Small"; filmed banned in Germany
1971:
Collaborated with Leonard Cohen and Couperin (both providing music) on "Fata Morgana"
1972:
First collaboration with the actor Klaus Kinski, "Aguirre, the Wrath of God"; filmed on location in Peru
1974:
Chose former mental patient Bruno S. for title role of "The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser"
1977:
Reteamed with Bruno S. for "Stroszek"; first collaboration with actress Eva Mattes
1979:
Helmed remake of the 1922 vampire film "Nosferatu the Vampyre"; second collaboration with Kinski
1979:
Filmed adaptation of Georg Buchner's 1836 play "Woyzeck"; third and last colaboration with Mattes
1982:
Returned to Peru, overcoming obstacles of nightmarish proportions to complete "Fitzcarraldo" with star Kinski
1984:
Helmed two short films, "The Ballad of the Little Soldier" and "The Green Glow of the Mountain"
1987:
Final film with actor Kinski, "Cobra Verde"
1992:
Directed the documentary "Lessons of Darkness" (Discovery Chanel)
1997:
Helmed the documentary "Little Dieter Needs to Fly"
1999:
Filmed documentary "My Best Fiend ¿ Klaus Kinski" about their infamous collaboration
1999:
Acted in Harmony Korine's Dogma 95 film "Julien Donkey-Boy"
2001:
Wrote and directed war drama "Invincible"; film premiered at the Venice Film Festival (released theatrically 2002)
2003:
Helmed documentary "Wheel of Time" about the largest Buddhist ritual to promote peace and tolerance
2005:
Directed documentary "Grizzly Man," about grizzly bear activists Timothy Treadwell and Amie Huguenard, who were killed October of 2003 while living among grizzlies in Alaska; earned an Independent Spirit Award Nomination for Best Documentary
2007:
Directed Christian Bale in "Rescue Dawn," a film based on his acclaimed 1998 documentary "Little Dieter Needs to Fly"
2008:
Filmed documentary "Encounters at the End of the World," about people and places in Antarctica; earned Independent Spirit and Academy Award nominations for Best Documentary
2009:
Directed Nicolas Cage in "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans"
2009:
Directed Michael Shannon in thriller "My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done"; also co-wrote
2010:
Directed historical documentary "Cave of Forgotten Dreams"
2012:
Cast opposite Tom Cruise in action drama "Jack Reacher"
2013:
Co-directed documentary "Happy People: A Year in the Taiga" with Dmitry Vasyukov; also co-wrote with Vasyukov and son Rudolph Herzog
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Munich University: -
University of Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh , Pennsylvania -

Notes

"I try to make films because I know that I have some sort of vision or insight . . . When I make a film I try to articulate it." For him, "it's the fire" of belief and commitment that makes the film, and goes on: "When I look back at my films I think they all came out of some sort of pain . . . I make films to rid myself of them, like ridding myself of a nightmare." It is not that he wants to "make confessions," only that for him film is "something which has more importance than my private life." --Werner Herzog, quoted in "World Film Directors", Volume Two, edited by John Wakeman

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Martje Grohmann. Had four granddaughters and one grandson; survived her.

Family close complete family listing

mother:
Elizabeth Herzog. Of Yugoslav descent; separated from Herzog's father c. 1954.
mother:
Elizabeth Herzog. Died in the Holocaust.
son:
Burro Herzog. Irish-born.

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