'Werner Herzog: The Ecstatic Truth' on view at Eye Filmmuseum
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'Werner Herzog: The Ecstatic Truth' on view at Eye Filmmuseum
Echos aus einem düsteren Reich, (1990). Werner Herzog Film + Deutsche Kinemathek.

BERLIN.- Since 18 June, Eye Filmmuseum has been presenting an exhibition and extensive film programme around the work of celebrated filmmaker Werner Herzog, who last year reached the age of eighty. With an unorthodox oeuvre of more than seventy features, documentaries and shorts, Herzog has fascinated audiences with unforgettable stories, images and characters for more than half a century. His films grant us insights into human existence and man's relationship with the endless indifference and vastness of nature.

In his work, Herzog seeks out those places on our planet that seem most other-worldly. From the rim of an active volcano to the world beneath the polar ice; from the jungle to burning oil fields; from the Sahara to death row. He points his camera at people who live and survive in extreme circumstances – from scientists in Antarctica to child soldiers. The filmmaker feels a great affinity with the dreamers, obsessives, the solitary rebels and the marginalised, who for whatever reasons stray from the well-trodden path. What motivates them?

By telling the stories of these exceptional individuals, Herzog at the same time manages to tell bigger stories about human existence. He comes across as a cool observer, but one with incredible empathy. His deep interest in rushing technological developments also informs many of his films.

With his irrepressible drive to make films, Herzog has inspired generations of film-lovers and filmmakers. In doing so, he never avoids controversy: the Herzog film that does not provoke discussion has yet to be made. His voice – instantly recognisable in voice-over – and his cultivated, no-nonsense image have made him an almost mythical cult figure, which appears in numerous memes on the internet.


This exhibition offers an insight into how Herzog sees the world. Central to this is his idea of ‘ecstatic truth’: something the director is constantly in search of. To this end, he constructs and stylises images that expose this deeper level of truth: “I’m modifying facts in such a degree that they resemble truth more than reality.”

Herzog strives to capture the human condition in our times and, in his own words, explore “the inner landscapes of the soul”. He is not afraid to give reality a helping hand in depicting this deeper, more essential truth. If you’re only interested in dry reality – the accountant’s truth – Herzog says, you’d be better off just watching surveillance footage. This filmmaker is no ‘fly on the wall’: he prefers to see himself as a furious wasp, impossible to avoid.

The exhibition is built up around a selection of key scenes from Herzog’s oeuvre, with iconic images from films such as Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht (1979), Fitzcarraldo (1982), Little Dieter Needs to Fly (1997) and Grizzly Man (2004). In addition, documents, archival items and props from the Werner Herzog Archive are on display and introduce his team. The exhibition was conceived and organised in cooperation with Deutsche Kinemathek, Berlin, which manages the Archive.

Film Programme, Nationwide Screenings & Talks

Thirty films have been selected for the film programme and will screen in Eye’s cinemas during the exhibition. Four of these are being released by Eye and will screen nationwide. There will also be an extensive programme of events, introductions and live music. This includes room for a multitude of reflections on his oeuvre, from fans and critics alike.

Lebenszeichen (1968, 87’)
Maβnahmen gegen Fanatiker (1969, 12’)
Auch Zwerge haben klein angefangen (1970, 96’)
Fata Morgana (1971, 79’)
Land des Schweigens und der Dunkelheit (1971, 85’)
Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes (1972, 94’) – screening nationwide, from 15 June
Kaspar Hauser - Jeder für sich und Gott gegen alle (1974, 110’) – screening nationwide, from 15 June
Die groβe Ekstase des Bildschnitzers Steiner (1974, 45’)
Herz aus Glas (1976, 94’)
Stroszek (1977, 116’)
La Soufrière (1977, 30’)
Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht (1979, 107’)
Fitzcarraldo (1982, 157’) – screening nationwide, from 15 June
Gasherbrum – der leuchtende Berg (1984, 45’)
Woodabe – die Hirten der Sonne (1989, 52’)
Echos aus einem düsteren Reich (1990, 93’)
Lektionen in Finsternis (1992, 50’)
Glocken aus der Tiefe – Glaube und Aberglaube in Rußland (1993, 60’)
Little Dieter Needs to Fly (1997, 74’)
Mein liebster Feind (1999, 95’)
Pilgrimage (2001, 20’)
Grizzly Man (2004, 104’)
Rescue Dawn (2006, 125’)
Encounters at the End of the World (2007, 109’)
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (2009, 122’)
Cave of Forgotten Dreams 3D (2010, 90’)
Into the Abyss (2011, 105’)
Family Romance, LLC (2019, 89’)
The Fire Within: Requiem for Katia and Maurice Krafft (2022, 84')

Films about Herzog

Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe (Les Blank, 1980, 12')
Burden of Dreams (Les Blank, 1982, 94’)
Radical Dreamer (Thomas von Steinaecker, 2022, 103’) – screening nationwide, from 8 June


Werner Herzog (1942, Munich) made his first film at the age of 19. Since then he has completed more than 70 films, and is still active today from his current base in Los Angeles: as well making films he is involved in acting, writing, directing opera and the running of the Rogue Film School, which he founded. Films such as Auch Zwerge haben klein angefangen (1970) and Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes (1972) established him as one of the most important post-war German filmmakers alongside Wim Wenders and Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Films including Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht (1979), Fitzcarraldo (1982), Lektionen in Finsternis (1992) and Mein liebster Feind (1999) deservedly occupy a special place in international independent film history. Herzog’s work has won many awards, and it would not be far-fetched to say that ‘Herzogian’ has become a genre in itself: epic, compelling, uncompromising and unmistakeably twentieth-century.

Eye Filmmuseum
Werner Herzog: The Ecstatic Truth
June 18th, 2023 - October 1st, 2023

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