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Werner Herzog

by Thom Bennett

"We are surrounded by worn-out images, and we deserve new ones." - Werner Herzog

There are few filmmakers who can claim legendary status on the same level of Werner Herzog. Not only was he a founding father of what is known as the New Wave of German Cinema, but everyone who knows him or has worked with him, seems to have some strange little Herzog story to tell.

Everybody seems to know the story about him painting thousands of gray rats white for his 1979 film "Nosferatu the Vampyr". Then, there is the time he told documentarian Errol Morris that he would never make the documentary about pet cemeteries that he was always talking about and, if he did he would "Eat his shoe." When, in 1978 Morris did indeed make such a film, the wonderful "Gates of Heaven", true to his word Werner Herzog ate a shoe. The incident was filmed by documentarian Les Blanc and can be seen in the aptly titled "Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe" (1980).

Herzog's body of film work speaks for itself. Scattered throughout, are some films considered amongst the greatest ever made. Such films as "Signs of Life" (1968), "Even Dwarfs Started Small" (1971), "Aguirre: The Wrath of God" (1972), "Every Man for Himself and God Against All" (1974), "Heart of Glass" (1976) and 'Nosferatu" (1979) established Herzog as a modern cinematic master. He has served as an inspiration and is revered by many of today's young filmmakers.

Werner Herzog's most recent film "Mein Liebster Feind", a documentary about his relationship with actor Klaus Kinski will appear at this year's Cannes Film Festival.

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