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Herzog: The Collection [13 Discs] [Blu-ray]

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Overview

Special Features

  • Audio commentaries
  • In Conversation - Werner Herzog and Laurens Straub (in German with English subtitles)
  • Making of Nosferatu The Vampyre
  • Portrait: Werner Herzog documentary
  • Herzog In Africa documentary
  • Theatrical trailers

Synopsis

Nosferatu the Vampyre
For Werner Herzog's 1979 remake of F.W. Murnau's classic 1922 silent horror-fest Nosferatu, star Klaus Kinski adopts the same makeup style used by Murnau's leading man Max Schreck. Yet in the Herzog version, the crucial difference is that Nosferatu becomes more and more decayed and desiccated as the film progresses. Essentially a retelling of Bram Stoker's Dracula, Nosferatu the Vampyre traces the blood-sucking progress of the count as he takes over a small German village, then attempts to spread his influence and activities to the rest of the world. All that prevents Dracula from continuing his demonic practices is the self-sacrifice of Lucy Harker, played by Isabelle Adjani. Director Werner Herzog used the story to parallel the rise of Nazism. The film was lensed in the Dutch towns of Delft and Scheiberg. Nosferatu the Vampyre was filmed in both an English and a German-speaking version; the latter runs 11 minutes longer. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Land of Silence and Darkness
This moving documentary by director Werner Herzog (Fitzcarraldo, and Aguirre, the Wrath of God) enters into the world of Fini Strabinger of Bavaria, who is both deaf and blind. Fini has made a career of helping others who are similarly afflicted, teaching them sign language and taking them on field trips to gardens and touching zoos. Told in an unaffected, homey style, this film uses a minimum of narration as it movingly explores the lives of these people. One of the film's highlights is footage showing Fini's reactions to her first airplane flight. ~ Clarke Fountain, Rovi

Aguirre, the Wrath of God
The most famed and well-regarded collaboration between New German Cinema director Werner Herzog and his frequent leading man, Klaus Kinski, this epic historical drama was legendary for the arduousness of its on-location filming and the convincing zealous obsession employed by Kinski in playing the title role. Exhausted and near to admitting failure in its quest for riches, the 1650-51 expedition of Spanish conquistador Gonzalo Pizarro (Alejandro Repulles) bogs down in the impenetrable jungles of Peru. As a last-ditch effort to locate treasure, Pizarro orders a party to scout ahead for signs of El Dorado, the fabled seven cities of gold. In command are a trio of nobles, Pedro de Ursua (Ruy Guerra), Fernando de Guzman (Peter Berling), and Lope de Aguirre (Kinski). Traveling by river raft, the explorers are besieged by hostile natives, disease, starvation and treacherous waters. Crazed with greed and mad with power, Aguirre takes over the enterprise, slaughtering any that oppose him. Nature and Aguirre's own unquenchable thirst for glory ultimately render him insane, in charge of nothing but a raft of corpses and chattering monkeys. Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes (1973) was based on the real-life journals of a priest, Brother Gaspar de Carvajal (played in the film by Del Negro), who accompanied Pizarro on his ill-fated mission. ~ Karl Williams, Rovi

Fitzcarraldo
German filmmaker Werner Herzog has never done anything by halves. When Herzog tackled Fitzcarraldo, the story of an obsessed impresario (Klaus Kinski) whose foremost desire in life is to bring both Enrico Caruso and an opera house to the deepest jungles of South America, the director boldly embarked on the same journey, disdaining studios, process shots, and special effects throughout. The highlight of the story is Fizcarraldo's Herculean effort to haul a 300-plus ton steamship over the mountains. No trickery was used in filming this grueling sequence, and stories still persist of disgruntled South American film technicians awaiting the opportunity to strangle Herzog if he ever sets foot on their land again. In the end, Herzog proved to be as driven and single-purposed as his protagonist, and it is the audience's knowledge of this that adds to the excitement of Fitzcarraldo. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Stroszek
Can anything be bleaker than the shabby slums of Berlin? Yes, argues director Werner Herzog in Stroszek: try Wisconsin sometime. Bruno S.. stars as an ex-mental patient who dreams of the so-called promised land of America. He aligns himself with like-minded prostitute Eva Mattes and elderly, near-senile Clemens Scheitz. Upon their arrival in Wisconsin, the three misfits find that they're just as trapped in Dairy Country as they'd been in Germany--if not more so. The sour and bitter Stroszek earned worldwide critical and commercial acclaim. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Woyzeck
Controversial German director Werner Herzog helmed this cinematization of Woyzeck, playwright Georg Büchner's anti-military tale of depersonalization run amok. Utilizing the more grotesque elements of German expressionism, combined with his own sense of the outrageous, Herzog plunges us directly into the middle of his story of a soldier (Klaus Kinski) who is conditioned to be an unthinking killing machine through lab experimentation. His one vestige of humanity is his love for the beautiful Marie (Eva Mattes), but even this is corrupted when he is goaded into murdering the girl. An earlier film version of Woyzeck, filmed in 1947, was released in the U.S. in 1981. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Heart of Glass
Heart of Glass (Herz aus Glas) is essentially a treatise by Werner Herzog on the power and importance of art. Director Herzog was known to put his actors through the wringer to get the results he wanted. In this film, Herzog decided that the best way to get his people to dance to the crack of his whip was to actually put them under hypnosis! The dazed, zombie-like performances certainly fit the subject matter. This is the story of an 18th-century Bavarian glassblower who by virtue of his delicate work virtually casts a spell over his neighbors. When the glassblower dies, the townsfolk discover that he failed to leave behind the secret for his special ruby glassware -- and will do literally anything to find the answer. The word usually used to describe Heart of Glass is "haunting"; some viewers have gone beyond haunted and into "possessed." Watch carefully and spot director Herzog in a bit as a glass carrier. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Fata Morgana
The term which has become this film's title, Fata Morgana, refers to mirages, and is an apt title for this storyless, hallucinatory work shot in the deserts of North Africa. It is a rhythmic, musical succession of images and short scenes. One of the images is a pianist and drummer who play tiredly, surrounded by endless tracts of desert. This is an image that has been adapted and re-used in countless music videos and is a small piece of evidence suggesting that this is a very influential film. The narration, in English, comes from a Guatemalan creation myth, and the accompanying music ranges from Couperin to Cash, with significant contributions by Leonard Cohen. Fata Morgana is one of the early features by the renowned director Werner Herzog, better known for Aguirre, Wrath of God and Fitzcarraldo. As is the case for many of Herzog's films, he paid a high price in physical pain to shoot this one; he was arrested and tortured by an African government in the mistaken belief that he was a mercenary soldier. ~ Clarke Fountain, Rovi

Even Dwarfs Started Small
Even viewers who've seen Freaks won't be completely prepared for Werner Herzog's bizarre Even Dwarfs Started Small. The film is set in a dismal mental institution, wherein dwell several midgets, dwarfs and other "oddities." Sick of being tormented and exploited by the so-called normal people of the world, the inmates stage a coup, taking over the asylum and utterly reversing the status quo (Herzog's apparent attempt to draw parallels between the events on screen and such real-life upheavals as Vietnam). As in his other films, the director imbues his misshapen characters with a sort of regal grandeur, as if to purge the German wartime atrocities against "underdesirables." Herzog also produced, wrote and provided the musical arrangements for Even Dwarfs Started Small, which was initially released in Germany in 1970 (two years after its completion) as Auch Zwerge haben klein angefagen. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser
German director Werner Herzog's internationally acclaimed "breakthrough" film is based on the famous story of mysterious 19th-century child genius Kasper Hauser. As played by Bruno S., Hauser shows up unannounced in the middle of a village square, frightening the populace with his bizarre behavior. He cannot talk, nor is there any indication of his parentage, thus Kaspar is immediately the object of close scrutiny from the authorities. When he finally does develop the power of speech, he reveals a highly advanced state of intelligence, as well as a seeming gift of prophecy. The winner of the 1975 Grand Jury prize at the Cannes Film Festival, Every Man For Himself and God Against All was originally released in Germany under the title Jeder für Sich und Gott Gegen Alle. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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