It is not easy to get an idea of Werner Herzog’s unique work. Succumbing to this insane syncretism of science, the phenomena of popular culture, the cult of shipping, and the sheer thirst for adventure to take on the elements of nature, in the end, out of idleness of reasoning, you would only agree with a word like “mythology.” Anything which cannot be dealt with by cause alone can somehow be categorized under this general axiom.
Actress Nicole Kidman makes the most appropriate and perhaps the most soulful suggestion to get to the heart of this unique blend of worldview and world-making in Thomas von Steinker’s Portrait of Thomas von Steinker’s “Werner Herzog – Radical Dreamer,” which will be released in October. She talks about Wernerwelt. It feels like an amusement park, like a cinema in your head, like a country full of unlimited possibilities – and reflects the mood of this imaginative and tangible place, where the human imagination seems to be limitless.
Kidman’s testimonial can currently also be seen in the exhibition “Werner Herzog,” introduced by Kinemathek to – certainly not faulting the Fassbinders, Schlöndorffs and Wenders – the greatest German filmmaker of the past 50 years on his upcoming 80th birthday. The actress isn’t alone with her memories, Christian Bale and Robert Pattinson also share their experiences with Herzog as modern presidents on video screens. Somehow, you are at the other end of the “Wernerwelt” series, which will remain open until the end of March.
On this side of Hollywood glamor is an Alpine veteran, to whom Herzog, he says today, dedicated his first major film in 1974: Swiss ski jump Walter Steiner, the flying hero from “The Great Ecstasy of the Carver Steiner.” “. The title actually contains the entire Duke, who was looking for “ecstatic truth” in both documentary and fictional form. (The now-famous character “Werner Herzog” also appears for the first time in the film.) The concept of truth has been repeatedly misunderstood, most recently in the controversy surrounding the fictional presentation of the documentary “Lovemobile”, director of which referred to Herzog.
The horrific hidden interpretation of the world
Werner Herzog’s insatiable curiosity did not subside, even in his eighties. The gallery makes a rudimentary attempt to organize this monumental work. At least she managed to put some eye-catching accents. Looking spatially, at the other end of the gallery, namely on the second floor – thematically decorated with woodland wallpaper which (also Duke influence) looks less grotesque than rustic – you can spot the old, mysterious, heavier German tongue whose stroke has become his trademark in America.
In the middle of the room is a video clip of the triptych showing an episode of nature shots from his documentaries and feature films. Even this impressive composition, a single whiff of mist, blazing fire, rustling ice, bubbles in the deep sea, and jungle noise, underscores how absurd it is in Herzog’s work to differentiate cinematic genres. Freed from all narration, the figure also clearly shows that the sometimes comic of his voiceovers makes it easy to forget what the great nature filmmaker Herzog actually was.
Only that National Geographic would never employ it with its horrific, subtle interpretation of the world, he joked a few years ago. For this reason, the Discovery Channel produced one of its biggest hits, “Grizzly Man” about a grouse bear Timothy Treadwell, who was eaten by a doll. Violent Man and Nature: One understands why the Duke of Treadwell’s fate is so close.
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A world of its own in ‘Wernerwelt’ created by ‘Wunderkammer’ designed by Herzog production designer Henning von Gierke. Here are showcases for things that are not adequately described to be used with props. Categorized by theme – boxes can be seen from “Fitzcarraldo” and “Nosferatu” in Berlin – these curated mini-sets are intended to give actors an atmospheric impression of the worlds Herzog envisions.
Cinema is a mixture
But in this museum-like location, centered in a room that could also be in an ethnological collection, feathered headdresses, ceramics, bone finds, shell remains, and dead mice also immediately evoke an image of the conqueror Herzog, with a headband in the woods giving instructions. Fascinated by foreign cultures, but also an intruder who harassed additional natives with steamboats.
In 1987, Spiegel titled a report on the shooting of “Cobra Verde” with the “Main Man’s Crawler Passage”, also documented in the show. The more Werner Herzog mentally distances himself from his compatriots and sets out into the world, the more difficult it becomes to translate this work into an idea of organized cinema.
The exhibition also reflects this concern about Herzog’s outlook, including his strong vitality in the early stage of his work, without assessing it critically. But Henning von Gierke’s “Wunderkammern” turned out to be the perfect picture of Herzog’s work style: a jumble. The same is true here: Not all things are real, some are lovingly designed by the creative designer. As if Herzog had already played his game with a supposedly original authenticity with a wink.
(until March 27, 2023 at the Deutsche Kinemathek – Museum für Film und Fernsehen, Potsdamer Straße 2, daily from 10am to 6pm, closed on Tuesdays)
Perhaps the most telling thing about the show, though, is Ready: a collectible character from the Star Wars series “The Mandalorian,” in which Herzog made a cameo as “The Agent.” The game again serves as a reminder that he’s been particularly active in the US as he is more than just a great director. Herzog is now a pop star — with guest appearances on “The Simpsons,” on countless talk shows and internet parodies. It shouldn’t be pointed out that Werner Herzog’s best parody comes naturally from himself: in the 2004 simulated horror accident at Loch Ness.
American Academy Award winner Chloe Chow, like Herzog a nature lover (but without his pessimism), describes the phenomenon very well on the show. Like any other director, he knows how to combine his purity and sensitivity to popular culture. As Werner Herzog finds himself in the people he portrays, he himself becomes a character: ultimately more famous than his films. The cinema is basically too small for a Wernerwelt.