Director Werner Herzog filming “Into The Inferno” on Yasur Volcano, Tanna Island, Vanuatu.
Werner Herzog is considered one of the greatest figures of the New German Cinema Herzog has produced numerous films exploring and sometimes blurring the lines between documentary, experimental, and fiction film. The public are invited to a conversation between legendary filmmaker Werner Herzog and film and media curator Sally Berger for a compelling and candid discussion at The Pratt Institute School of Art. The evening will explore Herzog’s vast career and his innovative and uncompromising approach to the medium.
Werner Herzog led the beginning of the West German cinema movement along with Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Volker Schlöndorff. The West German cinema movement consisted of documentarians that filmed on low budgets and were influenced by the French New Wave of cinema. French filmmaker François Truffaut once called Herzog “the most important film director alive.”American film critic Roger Ebert said that Herzog “has never created a single film that is compromised, shameful, made for pragmatic reasons, or uninteresting. Even his failures are spectacular.” He was named one of the 100 most influential people on the planet by Time magazine in 2009.
Herzog’s films often feature heroes with impossible dreams, people with unique talents in obscure fields, or individuals who are in conflict with nature. Besides using professional actors—German, American and otherwise—Herzog is known for using people from the locality in which he is shooting. Especially in his documentaries, he uses locals to benefit what he calls “ecstatic truth.” He uses footage of the non-actors both playing roles and being themselves.
Herzog’s films have received considerable critical acclaim and achieved popularity on the art house circuit. They have also been the subject of controversy in regard to their themes and messages, especially the circumstances surrounding their creation. A notable example is Fitzcarraldo, in which the obsessiveness of the central character was reflected by the director during the making of the film. Burden of Dreams, a documentary filmed during the making of Fitzcarraldo, explored Herzog’s efforts to make the film in harsh conditions.
His treatment of subjects has been characterized as Wagnerian in its scope, and Fitzcarraldo and his later film Invincible (2001) are directly inspired by opera, or operatic themes. He is proud of never using storyboards and often improvising large parts of the script. He explains this technique in the commentary track to Aguirre, the Wrath of God.
Herzog considers his prose and poetry writings, such as “Of Walking in Ice”, and “Conquest of the Useless”, as having more enduring value than his films.
Pratt’s School of Art and Film/Video Department share Herzog’s expansive vision that an artist’s work should cross boundaries and resist categorization without losing the maker’s own unmistakable voice. The Pratt Institute‘s Film/Video Department therefore present a special evening with filmmaker Werner Herzog, one of the most courageous, mythical, and influential artists of our time. Moderated by film and media curator Sally Berger, the discussion will launch the Pratt Institute School of Art (SoArt) Lecture Series.
The School of Art (SoArt) Lecture Series invites a prominent conversation-generating artist to the Pratt campus each year. For this inaugural lecture celebrating the recently formed School of Art, the school has partnered with the Film/Video Department to host Werner Herzog. The SoArt Lecture Series is supported by Pratt Presents.
WHEN: Wednesday, April 12, 7 PM
WHERE: Higgins Hall Auditorium, Pratt Institute, 61 St. James Street, Brooklyn, NY 11205
The event is free and open to the public; reservations required. Please visit giving.pratt.edu/pages/evening-with-werner-herzog to make a reservation.
For more information on Pratt Institute’s Film/Video Department visit pratt.edu/film-video.
For more information on Pratt Institute’s School of Art visit pratt.edu/academics/school-of-art/.