September 5-8,  2002

American Cinematheque Presents...

Poet of Doom: A Tribute to Werner Herzog In-Person

Presented in association with the Goethe Institut, Los Angeles – German Cultural Center

Sponsored by Werner Herzog Film

Friends of Goethe will receive the Cinematheque Member discount for this series. Please show current membership card. One discounted ticket per card please.

Series compiled by Dennis Bartok and Gwen Deglise.

Special Thanks to: Jennifer.Stott/FINE LINE; Jonathan Howell / NEW YORKER; Lucki Stipetic, Irma Strehle/WERNER HERZOG FILM; Les Blank/FLOWER FILMS; Fritz Herzog/ACADEMY OF MOTION PICTURES ARTS & SCIENCE; Margit Kleinman/GOETHE INSTITUT, LOS ANGELES.


Tickets available 30 days in advance. Tickets are $8 general admission unless noted otherwise.



SCHEDULE (by series)

SCHEDULE (by date)







Sold out programs will be indicated here if sold out 24 hours in advance of screening date.

"Herzog is a darkly comic poet with a cawing inner language that seems to have been learned from vultures, beggars, prophets, clowns, deaf genius musicians."

- The New Yorker, 1978

"A consummate poet of doom"

- Janet Maslin, NY Times, 1995

The films of director Werner Herzog are a mesmerizing combination of spiritual rebellion and cosmic slapstick – EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF AND GOD AGAINST ALL, as one title put it. Notorious for his own acts of Ahab-like defiance – dragging a ship across a mountain for FITZCARRALDO, hypnotizing the cast of HEART OF GLASS -- Herzog has written and produced nearly all his own films, defying not only nature but (more impressively) the industry.


Born Werner Stipetic in Bavaria in 1942, Herzog studied literature and history at the University of Munich, and made his first short film HERAKLES (1961) with a purportedly-stolen 35 mm. camera. Herzog’s first feature, SIGNS OF LIFE (1968) established the themes that would re-occur through-out his career: a dreamlike, dessicated landscape (Greece); mythological references; and the increasing terror of a man at odds with himself and his environment.

Hailed by critic Lotte Eisner as "a romantic spirit inspired by German silents" (he would later walk a healing pilgrimage from Munich to Paris when Eisner fell sick), Herzog emerged with Fassbinder and Wenders at the forefront of the New German Cinema movement in the 1970’s.

Alternating between epic historical dramas (AGUIRRE, THE WRATH OF GOD; FITZCARRALDO) and brilliant, unnerving documentaries (LITTLE DIETER NEEDS TO FLY, MY BEST FIEND – KLAUS KINSKI), Herzog has produced a body of images unmatched for their audacity and surreal beauty. With his latest feature INVINCIBLE (soon to be released theatrically by Fine Line), Herzog continues to embrace life at its most apocalyptic extremes.



Thursday, September 5 – 7:30 PM

Special Sneak Preview! Werner Herzog & Tim Roth In Person!!

INVINCIBLE, 2002, Fine Line, 150 min. With his latest film, Werner Herzog crafts a compelling pre-WWII drama based on a true story. INVINCIBLE follows the life and career of Zishe Breitbart, a Jewish blacksmith's son who travels from Poland to Germany to make his name as a strongman. Engaged by the legendary impresario Hanussen (Tim Roth) in a cabaret show in Berlin, Zishe becomes an instant sensation -- but Hitler's rise to power convinces him that his true calling is to warn his people of the dreadful danger to come. Discussion following with director Werner Herzog & actor Tim Roth.


Friday, September 6 – 7:00 PM

Werner Herzog In Person!!

MY BEST FIEND – KLAUS KINSKI, 1999, New Yorker, 95 min. Dir. Werner Herzog. An actor adept at molding the public’s perception of his bigger-than-life ‘madman’ persona, the late Klaus Kinski behaved like a violent satyr-cum-superego unchained from the niceties of civilized society. What better man to helm this amazing documentary relating the behind-the-scenes rampages than director Herzog, himself, who collaborated with Kinski on five films, among them AGUIRRE, FITZCARRALDO and NOSFERATU. Never less than riveting, MY BEST FIEND gives an extraordinary insight into the insanity and sensitivity, the misanthropy and poetry that co-existed in the hearts of both these phenomenal artists. Discussion following with Werner Herzog.


Friday, September 6 – 9:45 PM

AGUIRRE, THE WRATH OF GOD, 1972, New Yorker, 93 min. Klaus Kinski is Aguirre, a power hungry lunatic who leads a Spanish military expedition down the Amazon in hopes of finding El Dorado, the legendary city of gold. From the opening images of conquistadors snaking their way through the jungle, director Herzog’s epic achieves a rare, operatic delirium. Laced with surreal humor – "spears are getting longer this year", notes one skewered soldier -- AGUIRRE is the first of the great Kinski -Herzog collaborations (the two reportedly met when their families shared a house together in Munich.) With Helena Rojo, Del Negro. Werner Herzog to introduce screening.


Saturday, September 7 – 5:00 PM

Double Feature -- Werner Herzog In-Person!!

L.A. Premiere! WINGS OF HOPE, 1999, Werner Herzog Film, 70 min. Director Herzog returns with German biologist Juliane Koepcke to the scene of her 1971 Peruvian jungle plane wreck, of which she was the only survivor. Herzog and members of his crew had originally been scheduled for the flight on the way to film AGUIRRE, and this adds a fascinating dimension of intertwined destinies to one of his most poetic documentary meditations.

LITTLE DIETER NEEDS TO FLY, 1997, Werner Herzog Film, 80 min. Dir. Werner Herzog. A superb example of Herzog’s marvelous "real-life" storytelling ability, and his spectacular gift to go beyond the ordinary documentary into realms of transcendental art. Herzog travels with German/American pilot Dieter Dengler as he relives his nightmarish ordeal as a prisoner of the Viet Cong and his miraculous escape through the jungles of Laos. Spellbinding! Discussion following with Werner Herzog.


Saturday, September 7 – 9:15 PM

NOSFERATU, THE VAMPYRE, 1978, Werner Herzog Film, 107 min. Dir. Werner Herzog. An homage to Murnau’s 1922 classic, Herzog’s NOSFERATU achieves its own hypnotic power by evoking a Romantic past of waterfalls and mist-filled valleys, and through the eerie sensuality of Klaus Kinski’s performance. Like Aguirre and Fitzcarraldo, Kinski’s Nosferatu is driven by the need for an unknowable spiritual ecstasy – in this case, Isabelle Adjani’s ethereal Lucy. With Bruno Ganz. Werner Herzog to introduce screening.


Sunday, September 8 – 4:00 PM

Werner Herzog In Person!! New Restored Print!

BURDEN OF DREAMS, 1982, Flower Films, 94 min. Dir. Les Blank. When Herzog set off to make FITZCARRALDO, Les Blank tagged along to document what became a torrential downpour of difficulties: the loss of actors Jason Robards and Mick Jagger; native Indian revolts; and the sheer logistics of dragging an entire boat through the jungle. Herzog has called BURDEN "a blemish on my soul to this day" – join us for a rare opportunity to hear Herzog discuss BURDEN OF DREAMS and the production of FITZCARRALDO. Discussion following with Werner Herzog.


Sunday, September 8 – 7:00 PM

FITZCARRALDO, 1982, Werner Herzog Film, 158 min. Rubber baron and music fanatic Fitzcarraldo (Klaus Kinski) journeys down the darkest byways of the Amazon to build an opera house at the rain forest’s heart. Like his title character, director Herzog reaches an ambitious pinnacle of achievement here – the staggeringly impossible odds that seem to weigh against Fitzcarraldo ever reaching his goal were mirrored by Herzog’s own attempts to complete the film. A must-see! Werner Herzog to introduce screening.