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Werner Herzog (born Werner Herzog Stipetić; 5 September 1942) is a German film director, producer, screenwriter, actor, and opera director.

He is often associated with the German New Wave movement (also called New German Cinema), along with Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Margarethe von Trotta, Volker Schlöndorff, Hans-Jürgen Syberberg, Wim Wenders and others. His films often feature heroes with impossible dreams, people with unique talents in obscure fields, or individuals who find themselves in conflict with nature.


Herzog was born Werner Herzog Stipetić ( ) to Dietrich Herzog and Elizabeth Stipetic in Munichmarker. His family moved to the remote Bavarian village of Sachrang (nestled in the Chiemgau Alpsmarker), after the house next to theirs was destroyed during the bombing at the close of World War II. When he was 12, he and his family moved back to Munich.

The same year, Herzog was told to sing in front of his class at school and he adamantly refused. He was almost expelled for this and until the age of 18 listened to no music, sang no songs and studied no instruments. He later said that he would easily give 10 years from his life to be able to play an instrument. At 14, he was inspired by an encyclopedia entry about film-making which he says provided him with "everything I needed to get myself started" as a film-maker — that, and the 35 mm camera that the young Herzog stole from the Munich Film School. In the commentary for Aguirre, the Wrath of God, he states, "I don't consider it theft — it was just a necessity — I had some sort of natural right for a camera, a tool to work with." He studied at the University of Munichmarker despite earning a scholarship to Duquesne Universitymarker in Pittsburghmarker, Pennsylvaniamarker.

In the early 1960s, Herzog worked nightshifts as a welder in a steel factory to help fund his first films.

Herzog has been married three times and has three children. In 1967, he married Martje Grohmann, with whom he had a son in 1973, Rudolph Amos Achmed, who is a film producer and director as well as the author of several non-fiction books. In 1980, his daughter, Hanna Mattes (now a photographer and an artist), was born to Eva Mattes. In 1987, Herzog was divorced from Grohmann; later the same year he married Christine Maria Ebenberger. Their son, Simon Herzog, who attends Columbia University, was born in 1989. Herzog and Ebenberger divorced in 1994. In 1995 Herzog moved to the United States and in 1999 married photographer Lena Pisetski, now Lena Herzog. They live in Los Angeles.

On January 2006 actor Joaquin Phoenix overturned his car on a road above Sunset Boulevard. Herzog, who lived nearby, helped him get out of it. A few days later, whilst giving an interview to the Mark Kermode for the BBC, Herzog was shot on film with an air rifle by an unknown individual. Herzog continued the interview and showed his wound on camera but acted as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened, remarking "It is not a significant bullet."

Herzog is also a Jury Member for the digital studio Filmaka, a platform for undiscovered filmmakers to show their work to industry professionals.


Besides using movie stars, German, American and otherwise, Herzog is known for using people from the locality in which he is shooting. Especially in his documentaries, he uses locals to benefit his, as he calls it, "ecstatic truth", using footage of them both playing parts and being themselves. Herzog and his films have won and been nominated for many awards. Herzog's first major award was the Silver Bear for his first feature film Signs of Life (Nosferatu the Vampyre was also nominated for Golden Bear in 1979). Most notably, Herzog won the best director award for Fitzcarraldo at the 1982 Cannes Film Festival. On the same Festival, but a few years earlier (in 1975) his movie The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser won The Special Jury Prize (also known as the 'Silver Palm'). Other films directed by Herzog nominated for Golden Palm are: Woyzeck and Where the green ants dream. His films were also nominated at many other very important festivals all around the world: César Awards (Aguirre, The Wrath of God), Emmy Awards (Little Dieter Needs to Fly), European Film Awards (My Best Fiend) and Venice Film Festival (Scream of Stone and The Wild Blue Yonder).

In 1987 he and his half-brother Lucki Stipetic won the Bavarian Film Awards for Best Producing, for the film Cobra Verde. In 2002 he won the Dragon of Dragons Honorary Award during Kraków Film Festival in Krakówmarker.

Herzog was honored at the 49th San Francisco International Film Festival, receiving the 2006 Film Society Directing Award. Four of his films have been shown at the San Francisco International Film Festival: Wodaabe - Herdsmen of the Sun in 1990, Bells from the Deep in 1993, Lessons of Darkness in 1993, and The Wild Blue Yonder in 2006. Herzog's April 2007 appearance at the Ebertfest in Champaign, IL earned him the Golden Thumb Award, and an engraved glockenspiel given to him by a young film maker inspired by his films. Grizzly Man, directed by Herzog, won the Alfred P. Sloan Prize at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival. Encounters at the End of the World won the award for Best Documentary at the 2008 Edinburgh International Film Festival and was nominated for the Academy Award for Documentary Feature, Herzog's first nomination.

Herzog once promised to eat his shoe if Errol Morris completed the movie project on pet cemeteries that he had been working on, in order to challenge and motivate Morris, whom Herzog perceived as incapable of following up on the projects he conceived. In 1978 when the film Gates of Heaven premiered, Werner Herzog cooked and publicly ate his shoe, an event later incorporated into a short documentary Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe by Les Blank. At the event, Herzog suggested that he hoped the act would serve to encourage anyone having difficulty bringing a project to fruition.

In 2009, Herzog became the only filmmaker in recent history to enter two films in competition in the same year at the prestigious Venice Film Festival. Herzog's Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans was entered into the festival's official competition schedule, and his My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done? entered the competition as a "surprise film".

Herzog is also a Jury Member for the digital studio Filmaka, a platform for undiscovered filmmakers to show their work to industry professionals.

Film theory

Herzog's films have received considerable critical acclaim and achieved popularity on the art house circuit. They have also been the subject of controversy in regard to their themes and messages, especially the circumstances surrounding their creation. A notable example is Fitzcarraldo, in which the obsessiveness of the central character was mirrored by the director during the making of the film, as shown in Burden of Dreams, a documentary filmed during the making of Fitzcarraldo. His treatment of subjects has been characterized as Wagnerian in its scope, as Fitzcarraldo and his later film Invincible (2001) are directly inspired by opera, or operatic themes. He is proud of never using storyboards and often improvising large parts of the script, as he explains on the commentary track to Aguirre, The Wrath of God.



Actors/Actress in a Leading Role:

Actors in a Supporting Role:


Thomas Mauch
Mauch worked with Herzog on ten films: starting with Signs of Life and Last Words and ending with Fitzcarraldo. He helped to create hallucinogenic atmosphere in Aguirre and realistic style of Stroszek. Mauch won Film Award in Gold and National Society of Film Critics Awards for Aguirre. He was Herzog's first choise to be cinematographer during Cobra Verde, but after a perpetual torrent of verbal abuse from Kinski, Mauch walked out on the project. That was Mauch and Herzog's final collaboration.

Jörg Schmidt-Reitwein
Reitwein worked with Herzog on seventeen films. Reitwein was Thomas Mauch's assistant camera during Even Dwarfs Started Small. His first independent work for Herzog was Precautions Against Fanatics in 1969. He helped to create poetical atmosphere of Fata Morgana, Heart of Glass, The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser and Nosferatu. He won Film Award in Gold for Heart of Glass and Where the green ants dream during German Film Awards. He last collaborated with Herzog during Pilgrimage in 2001.

Peter Zeitlinger
Zeitlinger collaborated with Herzog on eleven films, from Gesualdo: Death for Five Voices (1995) to My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done (2010), included Rescue Dawn, Grizzly Man and Encounters at the End of the World.

Walter Saxer
Saxer produced sixteen Herzog's films, including Nosferatu and The White Diamond. He worked as Sound Department during seven Herzog's films, including The Great Ecstasy of Woodcarver Steiner and Echoes from a Somber Empire. He co - wrote Scream of Stone which Herzog directed. Saxer appeard as himself in Herzog's My Best Feind and in Les Blank's Burden of Dreams, in which he was perpetual torrented of verbal abuse from Kinski.

Lucki Stipetic
Lucki is Herzog half-brother. He also produced several Herzog films, including Aguirre and Invincible. Stipetic is a head of Werner Herzog Productions. He won Bavarian Film Award in 1988 for Cobra Verde and International Documentary Association Award for Little Dieter Needs to Fly in 1998. He was also nominated for an Emmy Award in 1998.

Beate Mainka-Jellinghaus
Beate Mainka is a film editor. She worked with Herzog on twenty films, from Signs of Life and Last Words (both from 1968) to Where the Green Ants Dream (1984).

Joe Bini
Bini is a film editor. He collaborated with Herzog on eleven films, from Little Dieter Needs to Fly (1997) to Bad Lieutenant (2009).

Costumes designers
Ann Poppel
Poppel is a costume designer. She collaborated with Herzog on four films, including Nosferatu the Vampyre and Scream of Stone.

Gisela Storch
Storch is a costume designer. She with Herzog on six films: The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser, Heart of Glass, Nosferatu the Vampyre, Woyzeck, Fitzcarraldo and Cobra Verde. She was nominated for a Saturn Award for Nosferatu the Vampire in 1979.

Henning von Gierke
Gierke collaborated with Herzog on seven films and several operas. He was Production Designer during The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser, Nosferatu the Vampyre and Fitzcarraldo. As a Set Decorator he worked on Heart of Glass and Woyzeck, as Stage Designer on operas: Lohengrin and Giovanna d'Arco and as Costume Designer on film The Transformation of the World Into Music. Gierke shot additional still photographs on Stroszek 's set. He appeared twice in Herzog's film The Transformation of the World Into Music as himself and in Herzog's TV realisation of opera Giovanna d'Arco. Von Gierke won Film Award in Gold for The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser during German Film Awards and Silver Berlin Bear for Nosferatu, during Berlin International Film Festival.

Popol Vuh
Popol Vuh was a German Krautrock band founded by pianist and keyboardist Florian Fricke. The band took its name from the Popol Vuh, a manuscript of Quiché Maya kingdom, after watching Herzog's Fata Morgana (in which Lotte Eisner read Popol Vuh's parts). The band composed music for eight Herzog's films: Aguirre, the Wrath of God, The Great Ecstasy of Woodcarver Steiner, Heart of Glass, Nosferatu, The Dark Glow of the Mountains, Fitzcarraldo, Cobra Verde and My Best Fiend. Their compositions were also used by Herzog in Rescue Dawn. Florian Fricke made a cameo as a pianist in Signs of Life and The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser.


All films were directed and written (or co-written) by Werner Herzog:




Full length:

For TV:



Films written, though not directed, by Herzog:

Werner Herzog has written all his films, except:

  • Scream of Stone (1991)
  • Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (2009)
  • My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done (2010)
  • The Piano Tuner (2010)

Herzog has also co - written:

  • Hunger in the world explained to my son (El hambre en el mundo explicada a mi hijo) (2002)
  • Incident at Loch Ness (2004)


Stage works



  • Floresta Amazonica (A Midsummer Night's Dream) (1992, Teatro Joao Caetano)
  • Varété (1993, Hebbel Theatre)
  • Specialitaeten (1993, Etablissement Ronacher)



  • Of Walking In Ice (Tanam, New York, 1981, ISBN 0934378010 )
  • Fitzcarraldo: The Original Story (Fjord Pr, January 1983, ISBN 978-0940242043)
  • "Conquest of the Useless" Herzog's diaries of the making of "Fitzcarraldo"

Co - writer:
  • Paul Cronin. Herzog on Herzog (London: Faber and Faber Ltd., 2002, ISBN 0571207081) (extracts here:
  • Lena Herzog. Pilgrims: Becoming the Path Itself (Periplus Publishing London Ltd., ISBN 1902699432)


  • Cobra Verde (Jade-Flammarion 2001, ISBN 2082030091)
  • Wo Die Grünen Ameisen Träumen (Hanser 1984, ISBN 3446141065)
  • Nosferatu (Ulbulibri, 1984)
  • Fitzcarraldo, Nosferatu, Stroszek (Mazarine 1982)
  • Screenplays: Aguirre, The Wrath of God, Every Man For Himself and God Against All & Land of Silence and Darkness (translated by Alan Greenberg & Martje Herzog; Tanam, New York, ISBN 0934378037)
  • Drebücher III: Stroszek, Nosferatu (Hanser 1979)
  • Drebücher II: Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes, Jeder Fü sich Und gott Gegen Alle, Land des Schwiegens Und der Dunkelheit (Hanser 1977)
  • Drebücher I: Lebenszeichen, Auch Zwerge Haben Klein Angefangen, Fata Morgana (Hanser 1977)

  • Alan Greenberg & Herbert Achternbusch. Heart of Glass 1976


  1. Bissell, Tom. "The Secret Mainstream: Contemplating the mirages of Werner Herzog". Harper's. December 2006.
  2. IMDb
  3. IMDb
  4. Filmaka Jury Member Werner Herzog,
  5. Filmaka Jury Member Werner Herzog,

External links

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