Werner Herzog

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Werner Herzog at the 66th Venice Film Festival 2009

Werner Herzog Stipetić (born September 5, 1942 in Munich ) is a German director , producer , actor , voice actor and writer . He is one of the most important representatives of international auteur films and the New German Cinema . Time magazine named him one of the hundred most influential people in the world in 2009.


Werner Herzog grew up in the Bavarian village of Sachrang not far from the border with Austria . The family fled there before the bombing raids on Munich . At the age of twelve he moved to Munich with his mother Elisabeth Herzog (née Stipetić, 1912–1984) , who came from a Croatian officer family. At the age of 14, Herzog converted to Catholicism . His father was Dietrich Herzog (1910–1989). His paternal grandfather was the philologist Rudolf Herzog , who gained fame through the excavation of the Asklepieion on the island of Kos . Werner Herzog has an older brother Tilbert Herzog and a younger half-brother Lucki Stipetić, who works with him as a producer to this day, as well as a younger sister Sigrid Herzog , who is a director. In his childhood he did not know any cinema until he saw his first film in the village school at the age of eleven.

For a short time he lived with his family in the Elisabethstrasse in Munich with Klaus Kinski , who already attracted attention with eccentric airs at that time . While he was in high school, Herzog worked night shifts as a spot welder in a steel factory. He graduated from the Maximiliansgymnasium in Munich and, in addition to his first film productions, studied history , literature and theater studies at the University of Munich . Werner Vordtriede was one of his teachers. A scholarship , which he broke off after a week, brought him to Pittsburgh in the United States .

In 1962, at the age of 19, Herzog published his first film, the twelve-minute short film Heracles . In 1963 he founded his own production company "Werner Herzog Filmproduktion" in Munich. Herzog made his first full-length feature film Lebenszeichen at the age of 24. For this film he received financial support from the Young German Film Board of Trustees . For this he was awarded a German Film Prize in the “Best First Film” category. The film was released in 1968.

At the end of 1974 he walked from Munich to Paris in 22 days to visit the sick film critic Lotte Eisner and thus - in his view - save her; about it he wrote the book On Walking in Ice ; he also spoke the corresponding audio book.

At the 2010 Berlin International Film Festival, Herzog was jury president. In 2012 he was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit, 1st class.

From Herzog's first marriage comes the son Rudolph Herzog, who also works as a director, screenwriter and producer. A daughter comes from a relationship with actress Eva Mattes . Herzog entered into a second marriage in 1987, and a son was born in 1989. In his third marriage, he has been married to the photographer Lena Herzog since 1999.


Werner Herzog (1991)
Werner Herzog with his laudator Edgar Reitz at the award ceremony of the City of Munich's Cultural Prize, 2015

Werner Herzog shot many of his films in English. He starred in five of his most famous films with Klaus Kinski . He made the documentary My Dearest Enemy in 1999 about the often difficult relationship between the two .

In addition to his feature films, Werner Herzog's work also includes numerous documentary works. After Cobra Verde , he made only a few feature films, but numerous documentaries for television and cinema. In earlier years he also made documentaries on a regular basis. In perhaps the most remarkable of these, Gasherbrum - The shining mountain over a double 8000m ascent by Reinhold Messner and Hans Kammerlander , Herzog's understanding of the documentary is expressed: He refuses direct cinema and the assessment that cameras can reproduce authenticity . Rather, the documentary works are always about your own perspective on the object, i.e. Herzog himself. This goes so far that he puts words and sayings in the mouths of some documented people and also strongly aesthetizes the work.

The short film Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe documents Herzog's redemption of a bet. Herzog thus encouraged Errol Morris to actually finish his first film Gates of Heaven . Herzog boiled his shoes and ate one of them down to the sole. Directed by Les Blank , who later became a much-praised documentary about the arduous filming of Fitzcarraldo turned (Burden of Dreams) .

In the mid-1980s he turned to opera and made his debut in 1985 with the production of Ferruccio Busoni's Doctor Faust at the Teatro Comunale in Bologna . He became known for his performances of Wagner , especially Lohengrin at the Bayreuth Festival in 1987, and Beethoven's Fidelio at La Scala in Milan .

In 2009, Herzog's films Bad Lieutenant - Cop Without a Conscience and A Caring Son were invited to compete at the 66th Venice Film Festival . This makes Herzog the second filmmaker to compete for the Golden Lion with two works .

On September 18, 2012, Herzog directed a concert by the American rock band The Killers in New York. The concert was broadcast live on the internet.

On the New York Whitney Biennial in 2012 led Duke, the video installation Hearsay of the Soul ( hearsay of the soul on). In 2015 the work was shown in a special exhibition in Cologne .


While working on his film Aguirre, the Wrath of God , Herzog tried to get seats for himself and his filming team on the later crashed LANSA flight 508 at Lima Airport on December 24, 1971 , but in vain: after all of them the day before Flights on this route were canceled due to the weather (he and his team were originally booked for the 23rd as well), the flight on the 24th was booked out, so he avoided the disaster. Decades later, after personal conversations with Juliane Koepcke , the only survivor of this flight, he shot his documentary Juliane's fall in the jungle , published in 2000, about this accident and Koepcke's rescue.

In the 15th episode of the 22nd season of the Simpsons , he lent his voice to a German pharmaceutical company in the English original and in the German dubbing .

The Dutch author and biologist Maarten 't Hart accused Werner Herzog of cruelty to animals in 2010. Herzog had consulted 't Hart for the film Nosferatu , but against his advice had a mass scene with rats carried out. The animals were colored black at Herzog's request, in connection with this they were dipped in boiling water. According to 't Hart, 50% of the rats were killed.

Werner Herzog has taken on the role of client in the Star Wars series The Mandalorian from Disney .


Films by Werner Herzog

Films about Werner Herzog

  • 1978: Christian Weisenborn and Erwin Keusch - What I am are my films
  • 1980: Les Blank - Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe
  • 1982: Les Blank - Burden of Dreams
  • 1987: Steff Gruber - Location Africa
  • 1988: Peter Buchka - To the end ... and then even further. The ecstatic world of the filmmaker Werner Herzog

Films with Werner Herzog

Series with guest appearance by Werner Herzog


Werner Herzog's star on the Boulevard der Stars in Berlin

Adolf Grimme Prize

Academy Awards

American Society of Cinematographers (ASC)


British Academy Film Award

  • 1983: Nominated for the BAFTA Award in the category Best Foreign Language Film (for Fitzcarraldo )

BBC Four World Cinema Awards

  • 2009: World Cinema Achievement Award

Bavarian film award

  • 1988: Producer Award (for Cobra Verde )
  • 2017: Honorary Award

Bavarian poet thaler

  • 2000

Biberach Film Festival

  • 2018: Ehrenbiber

Boulevard of the Stars

Cannes Film Festival


  • 1976: Nominated in the Best Foreign Language Film category (for Aguirre, the Wrath of God )

Directors Guild of America

  • 2006: Directors Guild of America Award (for Grizzly Man )


  • 1999: Nominated for an Emmy Award in the Outstanding Non-Fiction Special category (for Little Dieter Needs To Fly )

European film award

  • 1999: Nominated in the category Best Documentary (for My Dearest Enemy - Klaus Kinski )
  • 2019 : Lifetime achievement award

International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam

  • 1997: Special Jury Prize (for Little Dieter Needs To Fly )

Festival International de Programs Audiovisuels, Biarritz

  • 1999: Silver FIPA Prize (for Little Dieter Needs To Fly )

Krakowski Festiwal Filmowy

  • 2002: Dragon of Dragons Honorary Award

German film award

  • 1968: silver film tape (for signs of life )
  • 1975: Film tape in silver (for everyone for himself and God against everyone )
  • 1978: Silver film tape (for La Soufrière - Waiting for an inevitable catastrophe )
  • 1984: Film tape in gold (for Where the green ants dream )
  • 2013: Honorary award for outstanding services to German film

Gotham Award

  • 2005: Nominated in the category Best Documentary (for Grizzly Man )

Guild film award

  • 1980: Gilde Film Prize in silver in the German Film category (for Woyzeck )
  • 1983: Gilde Film Prize in Gold in the German Film category (for Fitzcarraldo )

Hof International Film Festival

  • 1993: Film Prize of the City of Hof

Independent Spirit Award

  • 2006: Nominated in the category Best Documentary (for Grizzly Man )

International Documentary Association

  • 1998: IDA Award in the Feature Documentaries category (for Little Dieter Needs To Fly )

Las Vegas Film Critics Society Awards

  • 2000: Nominated for the Sierra Award in the category Best Documentary (for Little Dieter Needs To Fly )

Locarno International Film Festival

Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award

  • 2011: Best Documentary (for The Den of Forgotten Dreams 3D )

International Film Festival Mannheim-Heidelberg

  • 1971: Interfilm Prize (for Land of Silence and Darkness )

Melbourne International Film Festival

  • 1993: Grand Prix (for lessons in darkness )

National Society of Film Critics

  • 2012: Best Documentary (for The Den of Forgotten Dreams 3D )

New York Film Critics Circle Award

  • 2011: Best Documentary (for The Den of Forgotten Dreams 3D )

San Francisco International Film Festival

  • 1999: Golden Spire (for Little Dieter Needs To Fly )

Festival Internacional de Cine de San Sebastián

  • 1982: OCIC Prize (for Fitzcarraldo )

Sundance Film Festival

  • 2005: Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize and nomination for the Grand Jury Prize (for Grizzly Man )

São Paulo International Film Festival

  • 1999: Audience Award (for My Dearest Enemy - Klaus Kinski )

Association Française de la Critique de Cinéma

  • 1976: Critic Award (for Aguirre, the Wrath of God )

Venice Film Festival

  • 1991: In the competition for the Golden Lion (for Cerro Torre: Scream made of stone )
  • 2005: FIPRESCI Award (for The Wild Blue Yonder )

Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany

  • 2012: Cross of Merit 1st class




  • Bernd Kiefer: [Article] Werner Herzog . In: Thomas Koebner (Ed.): Film directors. Biographies, descriptions of works, filmographies. 3rd, updated and expanded edition. Reclam, Stuttgart 2008 [1. Ed. 1999], ISBN 978-3-15-010662-4 , pp. 316-321 [with references].


  • Moritz Holfelder: Werner Herzog. The biography. “Every film is a ticket to the world.” Langen-Müller, Munich 2012, ISBN 978-3-7844-3303-5 [with 50 black and white photographs].


  • Emmanuel Carrère: Werner Herzog . Ediling, Paris 1982, ISBN 2-85601-017-2 .
  • Andreas Rost (ed.): Werner Herzog in Bamberg. Minutes of a discussion - 14./15. December 1985 (Bamberg Studies on Art History and Preservation of Monuments, Volume 6). Filmland Presse, Munich 1986, ISBN 3-925009-05-1 .
  • Paul Cronin (Ed.): Herzog on Herzog . Faber & Faber, London 2002.
  • Chris Wahl (Ed.): Lessons in Herzog. News about Germany's lost film author Werner Herzog and his work . edition text + kritik, Munich 2011, ISBN 978-3-86916-118-1 .
  • Eric Ames: Ferocious Reality. Documentary according to Werner Herzog . University of Minnesota Press, Minnesota [et al.] 2012.
  • Brad Prager (Ed.): A Companion to Werner Herzog . Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester [et al.] 2012, ISBN 978-1-405-19440-2 .
  • Kristina Jaspers, Rüdiger Zill (ed.): Werner Herzog - At the borders . Bertz + Fischer, Berlin 2015, ISBN 978-3-86505-235-3 .

Film music

Web links

Commons : Werner Herzog  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ The 2009 TIME 100. In: Time Magazine . Retrieved October 12, 2014.
  2. ^ Paul Laster: Werner Herzog Comes Out of the Cave. In: The New York Observer . July 25, 2011, accessed August 15, 2013 .
  3. ↑ Audio commentary by director Werner Herzog, included in the bonus material (extras) on the DVD Nosferatu - Phantom of the Night , 2016, Arthaus - Special Films , Leipzig, + Studiocanal GmbH , Berlin
  4. Konrad Heidkamp : Knowledge comes from the soles. In: Die Zeit , November 22, 2007.
  5. Walking in the ice . ( audible.de [accessed on May 26, 2019]).
  6. Werner Herzog becomes jury president of the 60th Berlinale. In: Berlin International Film Festival, November 19, 2009. Retrieved October 13, 2014.
  7. ^ Federal Cross of Merit for Werner Herzog. In: Focus : May 4, 2012. Retrieved October 13, 2014.
  8. Persistent clashes with reality. Retrieved June 10, 2020 .
  9. ^ Anthology Film Archives: Film Screenings. Retrieved June 10, 2020 .
  10. cf. Venezia: E 'the Duke anche il film sorpresa . ANSA , September 4, 2009 7:13 PM CET, Venice
  11. Werner Herzog directs The Killers concert. In: Welt.de. Retrieved September 26, 2018 .
  12. Koepcke, Juliane: When I fell from heaven: How the jungle gave me back my life. Piper, Munich 2011, ISBN 978-3-492-27493-7 , p. 83.
  13. Maarten 't Hart in the TV program “Zomergasten” (VPRO, NL), August 1, 2010.
  14. Werner Herzog becomes a star warrior . In: spiegel.de . Retrieved September 9, 2019.
  15. Manaslu - Mountain of Souls. Retrieved January 6, 2020 .
  16. Werner Herzog receives honorary award in Hollywood. January 10, 2020, accessed January 10, 2020 .
  17. ASC to Honor Werner Herzog with 2020 Board of Governors Award. January 9, 2020, accessed January 10, 2020 .
  18. Werner Herzog receives honorary award at the Bavarian Film Prize . Article dated December 13, 2017, accessed December 14, 2017.
  19. Werner Herzog receives honorary award in Biberach . Article dated September 24, 2018, accessed September 25, 2018.
  20. Director Werner Herzog is honored for life's work . Article dated May 14, 2019, accessed May 14, 2019.
  21. KJ Donnelly: Angel of the air: Popol Vuh’s music and Werner Herzog films . Ashgate Publishing , 2006, pp. 220 . ( Full text in Google Book Search).