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The Early Narrative Films Of Werner Herzog

Updated on July 10, 2013

Werner, The Legend

Werner Herzog is a prolific director, a brilliant man, and a downright inspiring human being.

Yes, Herzog did fly to an erupting volcano to record a man's last words before his fiery death for 'La Soufriere'. Maybe, Herzog kept a loaded gun at the temple of Klaus Kinski to keep him on the set of 'Fitzcarraldo'. And, yes, he did steal a shipment of hundreds of spider monkeys for the final scene of 'Aguirre: Wrath of God'.

The truth may be stranger than fiction, but the fiction is still damn good. Do yourself a favor and watch his earlier films. They are wild and raw. It's the kind of Apocalypse Now film-making that only happens with a mad man at the helm.

If you're interested in learning more about the rumor/legend/most-interesting-man-in-the-world stories, I highly recommend that you keep a copy of, Herzog On Herzog, on your bedstand at all times. You never know where a story from the life of Werner Herzog will take you.


This film is a classic for a reason. A man wants to build an opera house in the Peruvian jungle and hatches a plan to hoist a giant boat over a mountain.

What results is one of the most iconic, man's attempt to conquer nature, fables ever captured on film. A simple story, told in a devastatingly complicated environment. It's an absolute triumph, and a must-see for anyone who claims to love film.

It stars Klaus Kinski, the object of the movie 'My Best Fiend' detailing the troubled relationship between the star and director. If you want to see Germany's Daniel Day Lewis, he's right here heaving a boat up a mountain, just for you.

ALSO, check out the documentary of the making of it, Burden of Dreams, when you're done with the film. It's a masterpiece in it's own right.

The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser

This film tells the story of Kaspar Hauser, a boy who was chained up until he was 18 by an abusive father. He is taken into 1820's German society without any knowledge of what the outside world is.

The film stars Bruno S, who conveys a stunning simple performance. This man is one of the most unconventional heart-breaking actors you will ever witness.

Aguirre: Wrath Of God

This is disputably Herzog's best movie. It is definitely one of his most successful films. The film follows a group of Spanish conquistadors on a mission to find El Dorado. I'd rather not give any spoilers away, but just encourage you to watch it.


Based on the play of the same name, 'Woyzeck' is about a soldier under the whim of a mad doctor who forces him to eat only peas, and is driven mad by his wife's infidelity. This play is also the inspiration for Tom Waits' album 'Blood Money.'

It's another show-stopping performance by Kinski. That man is an animal.


For some reason this little gem doesn't get mentioned by most lists of Herzog's classics, but it's omission needs to end. It's a tear jerker. The plot follows an eccentric outsider and a down-on-her-luck prostitute as they try to make it in America.

Herzog on Waldo

Final Words

I hope this gives you a small inlet to start exploring this man's prolific career. If you have any omissions, let me know below.


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