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In the Cave

Peter Campbell: Cave of Forgotten Dreams, 28 April 2011

... forward: could the carbon-dated charcoal used in the drawings have been made from fossilised wood? Werner Herzog persuaded the authorities to let him make a film of the site. Cave of Forgotten Dreams, a 3D documentary, has just been released. Most art documentaries show you things that are no more than a plane ticket away, and the best of them send you ...

Go for it, losers

David Trotter: Werner Herzog’s Visions, 30 November 2023

Every Man for Himself and God against All 
by Werner Herzog, translated by Michael Hofmann.
Bodley Head, 355 pp., £25, October, 978 1 84792 724 8
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... The only reason​ Werner Herzog hasn’t yet made a film about the Ancient Mariner may be that, having already inadvertently incorporated so many elements of the poem into his own work, he has become him. Herzog certainly shares Coleridge’s interest in the physical and spiritual toll taken by epic voyages into uncharted waters ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans’, 24 June 2010

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans 
directed by Werner Herzog.
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... Werner Herzog’s Bad Lieutenant provokes two questions even before we’ve thought much about the film. Both are about timing. Why did it take the best part of a year after its US premiere to find a screen in the UK? And why does the film itself take so long to find out what sort of work it wants to be? It becomes a pretty amazing movie when it does find out, but – this would be a supplementary question – why couldn’t Herzog have found out before or during shooting, or even in the editing room? Was he waiting for Nicolas Cage to turn into Klaus Kinski on the screen? It is possible that the second set of questions is itself an answer to the first ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Jojo Rabbit’ and ‘A Hidden Life’, 5 March 2020

... 1943), Franz comes before a judge, played by Bruno Ganz, star of great movies by Wim Wenders and Werner Herzog. The judge suspends the proceedings to have a quiet talk with Franz, and provides the film’s one truly memorable scene. He tries, as others have, to get Franz to see reason, and Franz says he cannot betray his conscience. He is a ...

Jungle Book

John Pym, 21 November 1985

Money into Light 
by John Boorman.
Faber, 241 pp., £4.95, September 1985, 0 571 13731 8
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... in exactly the right place at exactly the right time: up river with the single-minded director Werner Herzog and his bewildered cast and crew – everyone talked – during a particularly trying stage of the production. Among several unforgettable images, the one which seems most effectively to encapsulate the folly of filming tricky subjects in ...

Chatwin and the Hippopotamus

Colin Thubron, 22 June 1989

What am I doing here 
by Bruce Chatwin.
Cape, 367 pp., £12.95, May 1989, 0 224 02634 8
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... art world. The section devoted to ‘Encounters’ – with Nadezhda Mandelstam, André Malraux, Werner Herzog, the architect Konstantin Melnikov and the fashion-designer Madeleine Vionnet – is balanced by odder meetings: an investigation into an Indian ‘wolf-boy’, a report on a sinister-ludicrous Boston messiah, and on a Chinese geomancer. Each ...


David Trotter: Bearness, 7 November 2019

... for example, an ardent conservationist and would-be bear-whisperer, ended up in a documentary by Werner Herzog, the queasily engrossing Grizzly Man (2005). Treadwell spent 13 summers camping among the grizzlies in Alaska’s Katmai National Park and Preserve. During the last five of these, he recorded more than one hundred hours of video footage, which ...


Hilary Mantel: In the Waiting Room, 14 August 2008

... our patients.’ What do you talk about, in these circumstances? We talk about Cardinal Wolsey, Werner Herzog, Uncle Ebenezer in Kidnapped, my brother’s dislike of cucumber. The surgeon had talked of gross infection, abscesses, adhesions, perforations. But green salad and odd film directors keep us going for quite a while. ‘Fassbinder, he was a ...

Don’t look at trees

Greg Grandin: Da Cunha’s Amazon, 9 October 2014

Scramble for the Amazon and the ‘Lost Paradise’ of Euclides da Cunha 
by Susanna Hecht.
Chicago, 612 pp., £31.50, April 2013, 978 0 226 32281 0
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... innocence and sin, heaven and hell, virginal and an ‘overwhelming fornication’ (the last by Werner Herzog). These oppositions were also applied to discussions about politics, race and economic utility. Hegel never set foot in South America but described the Amazon as ‘monstrous’ and compared it unfavourably to the Mississippi Valley, which had ...

It could be me

Joanna Biggs: Sheila Heti, 24 January 2013

How Should a Person Be? 
by Sheila Heti.
Harvill Secker, 306 pp., £16.99, January 2013, 978 1 84655 754 5
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... 36 on Christmas Day, has said that one of the starting points of the novel (others were Warhol and Werner Herzog and Kierkegaard and Otto Rank and Oscar Wilde) was the first season of The Hills, an American structured reality show that began on MTV when Heti was 28: ‘I was like, what if we cast ourselves as those girls have been cast?’ The Hills ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Nosferatu the Vampyre’, 10 October 2019

... and new worlds, but still: it was a good year for otherness. This feeling is strongly supported by Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu the Vampyre, a careful reworking of and elaborate homage to F.W. Murnau’s 1922 film, and also a good indication that weirdness in the movies arrives and vanishes as it is needed or not, like the attention of the court in ...


Iain Sinclair: The Peruvian Corporation of London, 10 October 2019

... was Carlos Fermín Fitzcarrald, a brutal and precipitate rubber baron, and the inspiration for Werner Herzog’s very different, white-suited Klaus Kinski in Fitzcarraldo. Stahl was a later emanation, imposing his own myths on those of the tribal people, successfully colonising the riverside settlements we were visiting, Pampa Michi and Bajo ...


Iain Sinclair: The Thames, 25 June 2009

Thames: Sacred River 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Vintage, 608 pp., £14.99, August 2008, 978 0 09 942255 6
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... Michael Heseltine, a wild-haired, mad-eyed visionary (Klaus Kinski to Margaret Thatcher’s Werner Herzog), pushed Docklands across the Thames to the East Greenwich Peninsula, Bugsby’s Marshes. The obsessive, neurotic and delusional Millennium Dome concept was a remake of Fitzcarraldo, a film in which suborned natives (expendable extras) drag a ...

Bin the bric-à-brac

Joanne O’Leary: Sara Baume, 4 January 2018

A Line Made by Walking 
by Sara Baume.
Heinemann, 320 pp., £12.99, February 2017, 978 1 78515 041 8
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... came about. One evening in her Dublin bedsit, she was watching Encounters at the End of the World, Werner Herzog’s documentary about penguins in the Antarctic. A scientist describes the phenomenon whereby seemingly healthy penguins abandon their colonies: what awaits them on the horizon, Herzog says grimly, is ...

Wild and Tattered Kingdom

Owen Hatherley: Fassbinder and His Friends, 29 June 2023

Fassbinder Thousands of Mirrors 
by Ian Penman.
Fitzcarraldo, 185 pp., £12.99, April, 978 1 80427 042 4
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... too-brief career, whether he thought films ought to be critical rather than affirmative, Rainer Werner Fassbinder replied that ‘the best thing’ he could imagine ‘would be to create a union between something as beautiful and powerful and wonderful as the Hollywood film and a criticism of the status quo. That’s my dream, to create such a German film ...

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