2010 – Werner Herzog
When Herzog says of the eminent precursors that “Of the filmmakers with whom i feel some kinship, Griffith, Murnau, Pudovkin, Bunuel and Kurozova come to mind. Everything these men did has a touch of greatness”, it is also indicative of the benchmarks he had set for his own creativity. A director, producer, screenwriter, actor and opera director, Herzog’s works contain a quality which can only be outcome of a mind that goes beyond the mundane and yet remains rooted in societal trends, be it bourgeois values, burgeoning consumerism, or reflections on life in outposts of civilization.
Werner Herzog was born in 1942 in a small Bawarian town, at a time when the dark clouds of the Second World War hovered over Europe. He lost an opportunity to write a screenplay because a German film producer found him ‘too young’. Herzog enrolled in the University of Munich as a history and literature student but moved on to make his first film, the short twelve minute Herakles. His enthusiasm to make films made him take up a job as a welder in night shifts to make money for the film. A formal course in film making held no charm for the young Herzog, who knew early enough that filmmaking could only be learnt ‘hands-on’.
Herzog’s films have learned awards and critical acclaim at major film festivals. Among them are the Silver Bear for his first feature film Signs of Life, the best director award for Fitzcarraldo and Special Jury Prize for his movie The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser at the 1982 Cannes Film Festival, and Golden Palm for Woyzeck and where the green ants dream- these are just some of the many. A look at the body of work would remain incomplete without a mention of Klaus Klinski, the main actor of the awesome films like Fitzcarraldo, Aguirre, the wrath of God and Woyzeck to name just a few.
Having made his first film at nineteen, Werner Herzog continues to create wonderment with the exquisite frames of the distant Taiga (Happy People: A year in the Taiga, or a community in the South Pole and Encounters at the End of the World), or the differing world view in Even Dwarfs Started Small
In 1963, he established his own production house, Werner Herzog Film Production, designed to give him complete autonomy over all of his projects. As a filmmaker, he seeks fulfilment in portraying reality, displaying a fearlessness, risking at all, even the cast and crew to get “the shot”