Ferocious RealityDocumentary according to Werner Herzog

Ferocious RealityDocumentary according to Werner Herzog

Eric Ames

Print publication date: 2015

ISBN: 9780816677634

Publisher: University of Minnesota Press

Abstract

Over the course of his career Werner Herzog, known for such visionary masterpieces as Aguirre: The Wrath of God (1972) and The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (1974), has directed almost sixty films, roughly half of which are documentaries. And yet, in a statement delivered during a public appearance in 1999, the filmmaker declared: “There are deeper strata of truth in cinema, and there is such a thing as poetic, ecstatic truth. It is mysterious and elusive, and can be reached only through fabrication and imagination and stylization.” This book asks how this conviction, so hostile to the traditional tenets of documentary, can inform the work of one of the world’s most provocative documentarians. Herzog, whose Cave of Forgotten Dreams was perhaps the most celebrated documentary of 2010, may be the most influential filmmaker missing from major studies and histories of documentary. Examining such notable films as Lessons of Darkness (1992) and Grizzly Man (2005), this book shows how Herzog dismisses documentary as a mode of filmmaking in order to creatively intervene and participate in it. In close, contextualized analysis of more than twenty-five films spanning Herzog’s career, the book makes a case for exploring documentary films in terms of performance and explains what it means to do so.