The Werner Herzog Collection has been located at the Deutsche Kinemathek – Museum für Film und Fernsehen since 2009. It comprises more than 16,000 negatives, slides and prints related to films from all the creative periods of the director’s career – from Herzog’s first feature film LEBENSZEICHEN (signs of life, FRG, 1968) to his four-part television series DEATH ROW (USA, 2012). Numerous images have not previously been published.
The majority of the photographs have been digitalized and indexed; a selection can be found in the online gallery. Only those films for which pictorial material is available are represented. These are mainly films where Werner Herzog’s film production company was involved in their making.
Some of the films, such as NEUE WELTEN – GOTT UND DIE BELADENEN (THE LORD AND THE LADEN, G, 2000) are represented in the collection with only a few photos, others like FITZCARRALDO (FRG, 1982) include several hundred. In some cases, such as WOYZECK (FRG, 1979), set photographs have predominantly survived or they are almost exclusively working photos, as in the case of AUCH ZWERGE HABEN KLEIN ANGEFANGEN (Even Dwarfs Started Small, FRG, 1970). Consequently, the heterogeneity of the materials are also reflected in the selection, which, in our opinion, contain the most compelling or surprising photographs.
The photographs are divided into three categories: Set Photos, Character Portraits, Work Photos.
Set Photos: They represent a scene from a film and tend to document the camera’s position, space and lighting composition, as well as the performances of the actors – in the case of a movie.
Character Portraits: These photos concern staged portraits of one or several figures from the film. In contrast to the set photos, none of the action from the film is recreated and the gaze of the person(s) being portrayed is frequently directed toward the camera.
Work Photos: They represent an aspect of filming and show the cinematic production process: the technique employed, how the director deals with the actors and the how members of the film crew work with one another. Work photos have a documentary character, but in rare cases they may also be staged.
Photo Captions: The individuals depicted are noted in the photo captions as far as they are known. As a rule, identification is carried out from left to right and from top to bottom. In photographs of fictional characters, such as set photos and character portraits, the name of the role or the role description is placed in parentheses. The ordering of the photographs usually loosely follows the storyline in a film.
The photographs in the Werner Herzog Collection were taken by professional set photographers, such as Beat Presser or Lena Herzog and members of the film crew. Due to the extensive amount and heterogeneous pictorial material, it is often very difficult to unequivocally attribute authorship. Where an official set photographer is well-known, his/her name is mentioned in the filmographic information, but is not assigned to the individual photographs. The rights to the images belong to the Werner Herzog Film GmbH.
The filmographic information is based on the filmography by Chris Wahl in Lektionen in Herzog (Munich, 2011) and was enhanced by information from Herzog on Herzog (ed. by Paul Cronin, London, 2002), Segni di vita (Grazia Paganelli, Turin/Milan, 2008), CineGraph, filmportal.de, wernerherzog.com and the credit listings of the films.
Digital Editing of the Images
No corrections to the tonal values were implemented, so that the color of some of the images may seem too intense or pale. Photographs age quite differently depending on their materials and storage. Corrections of contrast and color are always an intervention into the aesthetics and therefore an interpretation, which we did not wish to carry out in this case.
We are indebted to Werner Herzog and the Werner Herzog Film GmbH, who have entrusted us with the collection, and are especially grateful to Lucki Stipetić, who supported us during the realization of the project and with the identification of crew members. Moreover, our special thanks extend to Chris Wahl, who stood by us with content-related help and advice and who kindly made his work documents on Werner Herzog available to us.
Werner Sudendorf, Julia Pattis, October 2012