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Radical Dreamer – Film News | Film-News.co.uk

Radical Dreamer - Film News | Film-News.co.uk

by extreme hd iptv

Thomas von Steinaecker (director)

BFI Film (studio)

15 (certificate)

96 min (length)

19 February 2024 (released)

1 min

Ground-breaking filmmaker, explorer, auteur, poet, actor… German director Werner Herzog is all of those things and more! In this insightful documentary, released by BFI in HD-Blu-ray, we get exclusive behind-the-scenes access into Herzog’s private life, interspersed with rare archive material and in-depth interviews with Herzog himself, plus an array of famous collaborators including Christian Bale and Nicole Kidman.

Werner Herzog, by his own account, never really received the appraisal in his native Germany that would be bestowed upon him in other countries, putting it down to a stuck-up and traditional attitude towards filmmaking, as exemplified in a clip from one of the many schmaltzy ‘Heimatfilms’ which were particularly popular in Germany after the devastation of WW2 and usually depicted a wholesome and romantic world untouched by the hardships of reality. Almost ironic then that the now 81-year old Herzog, who was born in Munich, admits that the stunning Bavarian countryside – often an important part of Heimatfilms – will always be part of who he is. Together with current partner Lena Pisetki, we see him visiting his former family home in Sachrang in the idyllic Chiemgau Alps where his mother took him, his brother Till and half-brother Lucki after the neighbour’s house in Munich was destroyed during an Allied bombing raid. In their Sachrang abode, the family didn’t even have the basics such as running water, a flushing toilet nor toys for the kids. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, the children created their own and very anarchistic playground – this anarchism obviously shaped his attitude in later life. It wasn’t until a travelling projectionist came to visit the local school that Herzog saw his first ever movie. When the family moved back to Munich (albeit without their father, who had abandoned the family), Herzog was 12 years old but already knew that one day, he wanted to become a filmmaker.

Easier said than done in an era which lacked any kind of radical visionaries in the world of German movie-making. That came when writer and film critic Lotte Eisner introduced him and other aspiring filmmakers like Volker Schlöndorff to films, even old German silent movies like Nosferatu, they’d never seen before and which seemed worlds apart from the wholesome fodder shown in German cinemas at the time (many years later, Herzog would unleash his own ‘remake’ of Nosferatu, the Vampyre). Together with other ambitious directors like Wim Wenders, Volker Schlöndorff (both are interviewed in this documentary) and Rainer Werner Fassbinder the group was responsible for what would be known as ‘The New German Cinema’.

It would be fair to say that many of Herzog’s movies always fared considerably better in art house cinemas than in commercial cinemas, with the exception perhaps of his huge 1982 international hit ‘Fitzcarraldo’ starring ‘his best fiend’ Klaus Kinski – a loose cannon and utter nut job if ever there was one! The extremely volatile collaborations between star and director is the stuff of legend (or nightmares, depending on how you look at it) and we see footage of Kinski in action, that is to say in one of his many notorious outbursts, from behind-the-scenes archive clips of ‘Aguirre, the Wrath of God’ (1972), ‘Fitzcarraldo’ and ‘Cobra Verde’ (1987), at which point Kinski had lost the plot completely and started to physically attack everyone who dared to disagree with him about whatever. Watching the footage, one must ask themselves whether Herzog was just as mad to put up with someone like Kinski in the first place. Stoic and with an iron determination, Herzog would never throw in the towel and would not rest until his projects were finished, come what may. This kind of stoicism translates into his private life as well, as exemplified when, during an interview with Mark Kermode, he got shot with an air rifle by a demented fan (or enemy) and brushed off the wound on his belly as “It’s nothing really” and refused to go to hospital. The documentary also shows snippets of Herzog’s early works such as ‘The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser’ (1974) and ‘Heart of Glass’ (1976).

In the later stage of his career, the rebel still remained but by then Herzog was such a name that he lent his talents to different genres, including the acclaimed documentaries ‘Grizzly Man’ (2005) and ‘Encounters at the End of the World’ (2007). With his trademark Bavarian accent, he voiced his appearances as Walter Hotenhoffer in the 2011 The Simpsons episode ‘The Scorpion’s Tale’ and of course, in the Hit series ‘The Mandalorian’ he plays ‘The Client’ – a dubious character under orders from Moff Gideon to extract blood from little Grogu (aka Baby Yoda).
Herzog, who also directed several operas and theatre plays, seems to have no plans for retiring any time soon: in 2009, he directed ‘Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans’ and in 2015, he directed the biographical drama ‘Queen of the Desert’ with Nicole Kidman as British explorer Gertrude Bell. Both Kidman and co-star Robert Pattinson contribute to this documentary. Other contributors include Christian Bale, Patti Smith, Chinese filmmaker Chloé Zhao and Herzog’s ‘Mandalorian’ co-star – the late Carl Weathers (Greef Karga).

Bonus material:
Additional interview footage, ‘The Colonist’ (2022, 10 min) – a short film by Robert A. Smith under the mentorship of Herzog, Poster gallery, Theatrical trailer, Booklet.

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