Werner Herzog, a man of extremes | Arts.21 - The Culture Magazine | DW | 12.09.2020
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Arts.21

Werner Herzog, a man of extremes

A self-taught cinema visionary and an extraordinary storyteller who achieved world fame: Werner Herzog. We met the legendary director in Munich.

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He explored the Antarctic with his camera, filmed the infernos of erupting volcanos, made his way to the heart of burning oil fields during the Gulf War, interviewed death-row prisoners shortly before their execution and recounted the fate of a fanatical animal-rights activist who was killed by a grizzly bear. Werner Herzog has a penchant for extremes - as seen in the film locations and subjects he chooses, and even his actors. He made five films with Klaus Kinski, an actor renowned for his extremely erratic behavior. Two of them, "Fitzcarraldo" and "Aguirre, the Wrath of God", both shot in the South American jungle, are now considered milestones of "New German Cinema" - even if Herzog doesn't feel he belongs. Instead, he views himself as a Bavarian filmmaker, despite being based in Los Angeles for many years, where he has worked with Hollywood stars like Nicolas Cage, Christian Bale, Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise. Herzog is obsessed with film. He not only directs, he often writes his own screenplays and produces. In 2019, the European Film Academy presented Herzog with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Perhaps the decision was a bit premature, after all, the extraordinary cinematic storyteller is releasing more films than ever. Arts.21 met the filmmaker in his hometown Munich and talked to him about "The Rogue Film School", the power of music, and the constraints of filmmaking.