Werner Herzog Archive
For the most part, the director Werner Herzog has produced his films through his own production company. At the end of 2009, Lucki Stipetić, the director’s brother and business manager of the Werner Herzog Film GmbH, gave the company’s production archive to the Deutsche Kinemathek. The archive was expanded and enhanced with numerous documents in the summer of 2012. It offers insights into the working methods and the production processes of the director, who, according to ‘Time Magazine’, is ranked among the 100 most influential personalities in the world.
In addition to work photos and film stills, the archive includes extensive production records, correspondence, contracts, film scripts, scripts with annotations and even props. Press clippings, posters, advertising materials, programs and playbills on feature films, documentaries and short films – as well as for his opera productions and stage plays – enhance the production archive. The earliest documents originate from the context of his first full-length film ‘Lebenszeichen’ (‘Signs of Life’, FRG, 1968); the most recent from his television series ‘Death Row’ (USA, 2012).
Werner Herzog was born in Munich on September 5, 1942. He and two brothers were raised by his mother in the Bavarian village of Sachrang, near the Austrian border. The family moved to Munich in the 1950s, where Herzog would make his first brief encounter with the actor Klaus Kinski, who would later perform a number of the leading roles in the director’s important films. After completing his ‘Abitur’ (qualification for university) and a brief study of German language and literature, history and theater studies, Werner Herzog realized his first short films as an autodidact. He founded a film production company in 1963. In 1968, Herzog was awarded the Deutscher Filmpreis, as well as the Silver Bear (special prize) at the Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale) for his first feature film ‘Lebenszeichen’ (‘Signs of Life’, FRG, 1968).
Films like ‘Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes’ (‘Aguirre: The Wrath of God’, FRG, 1972) solidified Herzog’s reputation as a writer-filmmaker and were also internationally successful. In addition, ‘Aguirre’ was the first of five films, which Werner Herzog made with Klaus Kinski. The ambitious project ‘Fitzcarraldo’ (FRG, 1982) made headlines above all, among other reasons due to the difficult filming conditions in South America. Herzog has also filmed numerous documentaries, and moreover, he has been active as an opera director since 1986.
His documentary ‘Encounters at the End of the World’ (USA, 2007) was nominated for an Academy Award in 2008. His two films ‘Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans’ (USA, 2008) and ‘My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done’ (USA/G, 2009) were shown at the Venice Film Festival in 2009. Herzog was jury president at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2010. At the special series “Berlinale Special” in 2012, he introduced his four-part documentary ‘Death Row’ (USA, 2012). Werner Herzog lives in Los Angeles and Munich.
The Werner Herzog Archive has been located at the Deutsche Kinemathek 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’, GER, 2000) are represented in the archive 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 Archive 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.
Project management: Julia Pattis, Werner Sudendorf
Cataloguing and Indexing: Sandra Schieke, Anke Vetter
Digitization: Iris Janke, Magdalene Loda
Image selection: Julia Pattis, Sandra Schieke, Werner Sudendorf
Content-related advice: Kristina Jaspers, Chris Wahl
Professional archiving support: Julia Riedel
We are indebted to Werner Herzog and the Werner Herzog Film GmbH, who have entrusted us with the archive, 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.
All of the contents and photographs published in the context of the online presentation are protected by copyright and may only be used by third parties with prior written consent.