The films of German director Werner Herzog: Aguirre TWOG; Rescue Dawn; Grizzly Man; etc.

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I recently got re-interested in Werner Herzog's films, and have started watching some of the movies on this Blu set; this is the first time I've seen any of these films in HD. I find Herzog to be a brilliant, dark genius & his films have a unique & at times extremely twisted tone/vibe - that I haven't experienced when watching movies by any other director. Both his fictitious features & his documentaries are fascinating, and both categories focus on subjects/characters that very few other directors would either bother to (or want to) cover ;)

One of the many other things I find fascinating is that I find almost all of his films very strong, throughout the decades. I.e., though some directors definitely peak during a certain era, Herzog's films are great - no matter what decade they came out in, i.e. the 1970's-on.

Herzog has an incredibly extensive filmography; I've seen many of these, but not nearly all of them:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Werner_Herzog

My first introduction to Herzog's movies was circa 1993, when I took a class in college titled "New German Cinema". I wasn't a film major/minor, but as a burgeoning movie buff I thought it would be cool to get exposure to foreign (i.e., non English speaking) films - which I hadn't seen much of at that point. Well, in that class we saw at least two Herzog films. Much later (in the 200X's) I started watching more of his movies on DVD & was both fascinated & repulsed by his characters, stories, and bizarre imagery.

Here are some reviews:

The Enigma of Kaspar Houser (1974): I appreciated this film a lot more this time around then when I first saw the film on DVD (back in the 200X's). The Blu-ray has great PQ, for the most part - other than some hazy scenes in the beginning.

Re: the film itself: Very compelling & sad story. Was Kaspar handicapped, or had he just been isolated & abused since birth, to the point that he was not able to function in regular society? Who let him out of the place where he had been imprisoned for years?

That all being said - given that Houser appeared in a German village over 100 years before this film came out, it's evident that some/most?! of what was presented in the film was conjecture.

The end of the film was truly bizarre; very unexpected ending for a truly unsettling movie.

Aguirre: TWOG (1972): Incredible story & visuals, this film told the story of Conquistadors in late 1500's south America, searching for the legendary "City of Gold". The jungle the Conquistadors were trudging through may as well have been another character in the film - lush/stunning, and also extremely dangerous. The difficulty the group had in navigating the steep cliffs & river (with primitive equipment) was very pronounced.

Aguirre's descent into insanity was brilliantly portrayed. Incredible acting on everyone's part, notably Klaus Kinski as Aguirre. He didn't just portray this character, he WAS this character.

Where the Green Ants Dream (1984): Great film that seems to be an intentional pseudo-documentary. Not surprising to see the way aboriginal land rights are treated in Australia.

Little Dieter Needs to Fly (1997): Truly fascinating/compelling documentary about the real-life Dieter Dengler, who was inspired to become a pilot when the German city he lived in (as a child) was bombed during WWII. Since Germany didn't have any kind of a military aviation/flight program when he came of age, he went to the U.S. and & eventually became a fighter pilot - and then was assigned to Vietnam.

Obviously, the good companion film to see with this doc. is Herzog's excellent Rescue Dawn film (2006), which dramatizes Dieter's escape from a prison camp during the war. Starring Christian Bale & Steve Zahn, this is an excellent (though very violent) war film.

Also, worth checking out is a non-fiction book Herzog wrote titled Of walking in ice : Munich-Paris, 11/23 to 12/14, 1974. This documented a period of time when Herzog walked by himself across several European countries - in the winter. Wow.

If others post on here and/or are interested in reading more reviews, I'll write some more up as I continue making my way through Herzog's filmography.
 
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Herzog

Seeing German film director Werner Herzog in the recent The Mandalorian trailer has gotten me re-interested in his feature films & documentaries. So, I've decided to do a re-watch of them this Fall; I'm going to watch as many as I can on Blu-ray, and the others on regular DVD (or streaming). I'm seeing some of these films for the 2nd/3rd time, and others for the first. Herzog has an incredibly extensive filmography; I've seen many of these, but not nearly all of them:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Werner_Herzog

My first introduction to Herzog's movies was circa 1993, when I took a class in college titled "New German Cinema". I wasn't a film major/minor, but as a burgeoning movie buff I thought it would be cool to get exposure to foreign (i.e., non English speaking) films - which I hadn't seen much of at that point. Well, in that class we saw at least two Herzog films. Much later (in the 200X's) I started watching more of his movies on DVD & was both fascinated & repulsed by his characters, stories, and bizarre imagery.

Here are some reviews:

The Enigma of Kaspar Houser: I appreciated this film a lot more this time around then when I first saw the film on DVD (back in the 200X's). The Blu-ray has great PQ, for the most part - other than some hazy scenes in the beginning.

Re: the film itself: Very compelling & sad story. Was Kaspar handicapped, or had he just been isolated & abused since birth, to the point that he was not able to function in regular society? Who let him out of the place where he had been imprisoned for years?

That all being said - given that Houser appeared in a German village over 100 years before this film came out, it's evident that some/most?! of what was presented in the film was conjecture.

The end of the film was truly bizarre; very unexpected ending for a truly unsettling movie.

Aguirre: TWOG: Incredible story & visuals; the jungle the Conquistadors were trudging through may as well have been another character in the film - lush/stunning, and also extremely dangerous. The difficulty the group had in navigating the steep cliffs & river (with primitive equipment) was very pronounced.

Aguirre's descent into insanity was brilliantly portrayed. Incredible acting on everyone's part, notably Klaus Kinski as Aguirre. He didn't just portray this character, he WAS this character.

Where the Green Ants Dream: Great film that seems to be an intentional pseudo-documentary. Not surprising to see the way aboriginal land rights are treated in Australia.

Little Dieter Needs to Fly (1997): Truly fascinating/compelling documentary about the real-life Dieter Dengler, who was inspired to become a pilot when the German city he lived in (as a child) was bombed during WWII. Since Germany didn't have any kind of a military aviation/flight program when he came of age, he went to the U.S. and & eventually became a fighter pilot - and then was assigned to Vietnam.

Obviously, the good companion film to see with this doc. is Herzog's excellent Rescue Dawn film (2006), which dramatizes Dieter's escape from a prison camp during the war. Starring Christian Bale & Steve Zahn, this is an excellent (though very violent) war film.

Also, worth checking out is a non-fiction book Herzog wrote titled Of walking in ice : Munich-Paris, 11/23 to 12/14, 1974. This documented a period of time when Herzog walked by himself across several European countries - in the winter. Wow.

If others post on here and/or are interested in reading more reviews, I'll write some more up as I continue making my way through Herzog's filmography.
The only Herzog film I've seen is Little Dieter Needs to Fly and it was very memorable. I would love to see more and look forward to your reviews
 
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Some more WH film reviews:

Fitzcarraldo (1982): Interesting - but bizarre - film set in the early 1900's. The idea of a European spending a lot of time, effort, money (and also putting his life on the line) in order to bring opera music to the South American jungle is insane - especially during this era. But, the movie itself was very compelling. Very elaborate set designs, costumes, and great casting as well.

Stroszek (1977): This is the first Herzog film I saw - way back in the '90's. This is definitely a dark comedy, and I find this one of Herzog's most fascinating films. Some comments:

-The early scenes in Berlin were bleak & sad. The thought that Stroszek, his prostitute "girlfriend" Eva, and the elderly neighbor would all move to the U.S. for a "better life" was an interesting idea, but the reality was obviously far different than what they had envisioned.

-After the group moved to the U.S., things seemed to be working out for all of them at first (Stroszek got a job working in a garage; Eva got a job as a waitress). However, shortly after things actually took a turn for the worse for Stroszek. He overextend himself by not being able to make the payments on their mobile home; Eva ran off with some truck drivers; and, the film ended with a horrible tragedy. You got the impression that Stroszek would have been better off staying in Berlin - LOL.

Bruno S. was perfectly cast as Stroszek; I can't think of another actor who could have played the role as well. His 'deer in the headlights' gaze was spot-on for the part, just as it was for his lead role in The Enigma of Kaspar Houser. This is all the more impressive because I suspect BS was not a professional actor, and was actually playing "himself" to some extent re: these films.

Some amusing scenes:

-At the very beginning, Stroszek is being processed out of jail & a prison official tells him that the root of his problem is alcohol, and that he needs to stay away from this - in order to avoid going back to prison in the future. I.e., presumably he was in jail for drunk & disorderly-related offenses, etc. So, where does Stroszek go right after leaving prison (before even going home)? To a bar, where he promptly orders & drinks a beer - LOL.

-After Stroszek & co. can't continue paying on the loan for the mobile home, a bank official comes by & tells them that if they don't make the back payments soon, the bank will repossess the home. Stroszek - not understanding English & being somewhat drunk, doesn't realize why the guy has come & thinks it's just a friendly visit - LOL.
 
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