Given Herzog’s own pronouncement that ‘film is not the art of scholars, but of illiterates,’ it is not surprising that his work has aroused ambivalent and contradictory responses. Visually and philosophically ambitious and at the same time provocatively eccentric, Herzog’s films have been greeted equally by extreme adulation and extreme condemnation.
Even as Herzog’s rebellious images have gained him a reputation as a master of the German New Wave, he has been attacked for indulging in a romantic naiveté and wilful self-absorption. To his hardest critics, Herzog’s films appear as little more than Hollywood fantasies disguised as high seriousness. This book is an attempt to illuminate these contradictions. It gathers essays that focus from a variety of angles on Herzog and his work. The contributors move beyond the myths of Herzog to investigate the merits of his work and its place in film history. A challenging range of films is covered, from Fata Morgana and Aguirre, the Wrath of God to more recent features such as Nosferatu and Where the Green Ants Dream, offering the reader ways of understanding why, whatever the controversies surrounding Herzog and his films, he remains a major and popular international filmmaker. Orignally published in 1986.
Table of Contents
Part 1: Introduction 1. Producing Herzog: From a Body of Images Timothy Corrigan Part 2: Promotion as Self-Portrait 2. W.H. or the Mysteries of Walking on Ice Jan-Christopher Horak Part 3: Readings 3. On Seeing a Mirage Amos Vogel 4. Last Words: Observations on a New Language William Van Wert 5. Blindness as Insight: Visions of the Unseen in Land of Silence and Darkness Gertrud Koch 6. The Cosmos and its Discontents Dana Benelli 7. Literature and Writing in the Films of Werner Herzog Brigitte Peucker 8. Herzog, Murnau and the Vampire Judith Mayne 9. An Anthropologist’s Eye: Where the Green Ants Dream Thomas Elsaessar Part 4: Arguments 10. The Politics of Vision: Herzog’s Heart of Glass Eric Rentschler 11. Comprehending Appearances: Werner Herzog’s Ironic Sublime Alan Singer Part 5: Documenting Herzog: A Filmography and Selected Bibliography