Werner Herzog Biography

(German Film Director Regarded as a Pioneer of 'New German Cinema')

Birthday: September 5, 1942 (Virgo)

Born In: Munich, Germany

Werner Herzog is a famous German film director, producer, actor and screenwriter. He has received international acclaim and success with his films like ‘Aguirre: The Wrath of God’, ‘Fitzcarraldo and ‘Rescue Dawn’. Apart on working on film projects, he is a well-known personality in the world of documentaries and has directed several of them, including the famous, ‘Into the Abyss’. As a child, he never grew up watching any television or never even watched a film—yet, he has become one of the most prominent directors/screenwriters in the world today, with over 50 films to his credit. Apart from acting, directing and writing for the big screen, he has also authored more than a dozen books of prose and has directed just as many operas. He was a close aide and associate of the peculiar, Klaus Kinski and has been admired as the only director to have ever been able to work with Klaus. Considered one of the greatest figures of ‘New German Cinema’, he is compared to the likes of legends such as, Wilm Wenders, Margarethe von Trotta and Rainer Werner Fassbinder. His films often display heroes with awkward dreams, bizarre talents or those who are struggling with their surroundings.

Quick Facts

German Celebrities Born In September

Also Known As: Werner Herzog Stipetić

Age: 81 Years, 81 Year Old Males


Spouse/Ex-: Martje Grohmann - Lena Herzog

father: Dietrich Herzog

mother: Elizabeth Stipetic

siblings: Lucki Stipetic - Tilbert

children: Rudolph - Hanna - Simon

Born Country: Germany

Quotes By Werner Herzog Directors

Notable Alumni: Duquesne University, LMU Munich

Ancestry: Austrian German, Croatian German

City: Munich, Germany

More Facts

education: Duquesne University, LMU Munich

  • 1

    What are some of Werner Herzog's most famous films?

    Werner Herzog is known for directing iconic films such as "Aguirre, the Wrath of God," "Fitzcarraldo," "Grizzly Man," "Nosferatu the Vampyre," and "Rescue Dawn."
  • 2

    Is Werner Herzog known for his unique filmmaking style?

    Yes, Werner Herzog is recognized for his distinct filmmaking style which often involves blending fiction and documentary elements, exploring themes of obsession and nature, and using unconventional storytelling techniques.
  • 3

    Has Werner Herzog worked with any notable actors or actresses?

    Yes, Werner Herzog has collaborated with acclaimed actors and actresses such as Klaus Kinski, Bruno S., Eva Mattes, Nicolas Cage, and Christian Bale in his films.
  • 4

    Is Werner Herzog involved in any non-film projects?

    Yes, Werner Herzog has also worked on various non-film projects including writing books, producing documentaries, and teaching filmmaking.
  • 5

    What is Werner Herzog's approach to storytelling in his films?

    Werner Herzog's approach to storytelling often involves exploring complex characters, challenging environments, and philosophical themes, creating a rich and thought-provoking cinematic experience for audiences.
Childhood & Early Life
Werner Herzog Stipetić was born on September 5, 1942, to Dietrich Herzog and Elizabeth Stipetić, in Munich, Germany. The family was forced to move to a Bavarian village after their house was bombed during World War II.
They moved back to Munich when Herzog was twelve. It is believed that he was an extremely adamant child in school and would never play an instrument or sing in class, which almost resulted in his expulsion from the institute. At the age of 14, he developed an interest for filmmaking.
He stole a 35 mm camera from the Munich Film School and began filming whatever he could see around him. He won a scholarship to Duquesne University in Pennsylvania, but chose to study in the more reputed, University of Munich instead.
He travelled often which inspired his filmmaking in later life. In the 1960s, he worked as a welder in a steel factory. This helped him to fund his first film. t was during this time he directed his first fiction short film, ‘Herakles’.
In 1966, he worked briefly in television under the sponsorship of NASA.
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In 1968, he directed his first film based on World War II titled, ‘Signs of Life’, which became a critical and commercial success. The film was later, showcased at the 18th Berlin International Film Festival and also won an important award. The next year, he made a documentary feature film, titled, ‘The Flying Doctors of East Africa’.
In 1970, he directed, ‘Even Dwarfs Started Small’, a horror-comedy-drama film, which was made on a shoe-string budget of $200,000. He also made his acting debut the next year with the film ‘Geschichten vom Kübelkind’.
In 1971, he made two documentary feature films, ‘Land of Silence and Darkness’ and ‘Handicapped Future’, both of which were critically acclaimed. The next year, he directed, ‘Fata Morgana’ and his well-acclaimed film, ‘Aguirre, The Wrath of God’.
From 1974 to 1980, he directed a number of feature films including, ‘The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser’, ‘Heart of Glass’, ‘Nosferatu the Vampyre’ and ‘Woyzeck’.
In 1982, he directed one of the greatest films of all time, ‘Fitzcarraldo’ starring one of the most difficult actors of the period, Klaus Kinski. The movie was based on the story of the baron, Carlos Fitzcarrald.
In 1987, he directed the film, ‘Cobra Verde’, based on a Bruce Chatwin novel, ‘The Viceroy of Ouidah’
Through the 1990s, he directed a number of hit films including, ‘Scream of Stone’ and ‘Lessons of Darkness’. He also made a number of documentary films including, ‘Echoes from a Somber Empire’, ‘Jag Mandir’, ‘Bells from the Deep’, ‘Gesualdo: Death for Five Voices’ and ‘My Best Friend’.
In the 1990s, he also starred in the movies such as ‘Hard to Be a God’, ‘What Dreams May Come’ and ‘Julien Donkey-Boy’. Apart from acting, he directed operas like, ‘La Donna del lago’, ‘The Flying Dutchman’ and ‘The Magic Flute’ to name a few.
In 2001, he wrote and directed the drama film, ‘Invincible’ starring Tim Roth, Anna Gourari and Max Raabe. Although the film was rated average, it became a hit due to its brilliant music soundtrack.
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In 2009, he became the only filmmaker in recent history to have his two films entered in the Venice Film Festival in the same year. One was his American crime drama, ‘The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans’ and the other was ‘My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done?’
In 2010, he was the chief guest of the 15th International Film Festival in Kerala, India. The same year, he completed his documentary titled, ‘Cave of Forgotten Dreams’, which was a journey to Chauvet Cave in France. The same year, another one of his documentaries, title, ‘Happy People: A year in the Taiga’, premiered at the Telluride Film Festival.
In 2011, it was announced that he would be directing a film on the life of the explorer, ‘Gertrude Bell’ with the star cast, Naomi Watts, Robert Pattinson and Jude Law.
In 2013, he replaced Watts with Nicole Kidman for the role of Getrude Bell in his movie ‘Queen of the Desert’.
Major Works
‘Aguirre, the Wrath of God’, released in 1972, is one of this director’s most important works. An adventure film, it is also written by this illustrious director. This film marked the first of the five collaborations that the director had with Klaus Kinski. The movie opened to widespread critical acclaim and is currently viewed as one of the director’s best-known films till date. The Time magazine has included this movie in the list of ‘All Time 100 Best Films’. The movie also went on to influence Francis Ford Coppola’s classic, ‘Apocalypse Now’.
Awards & Achievements
He won the Silver Bear Extraordinary Prize of the Jury for ‘Signs of Life’.
In 1982, he won the ‘Best Director’ award for ‘Fitzcarraldo’.
He won the Bavarian Film Award for ‘Best Producing’ along with his half-brother, Lucki Stipetić for the film, ‘Cobra Verde’.
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He won the 2006 Film Society Directing Award at the 49th San Francisco International Film Festival.
Personal Life & Legacy
Herzog married Martje Grohmann in 1967, with whom he has a son, Rudolph Amos Achmed. The couple divorced in 1987.
He had a daughter with his companion, Eva Mattes, in 1980.
After he divorced his first wife, he married Christine Maria Ebenberger, in 1987, and had a son, named Simon Herzog, with her. The duo split in 1994.
After moving to the United States, he married Lena Pisetski, a photographer, in 1999, with whom he currently lives in Los Angeles.
Facts About Werner Herzog

Werner Herzog once pulled Joaquin Phoenix from a car wreck, saving his life.

He has walked from Munich to Paris as a promise to a sick friend, a journey that took over three weeks.

Herzog ate his shoe in front of a live audience after losing a bet.

Despite being known for his intense filmmaking style, Herzog has a soft spot for small animals and has been known to rescue stray cats.

Werner Herzog Movies

1. Fitzcarraldo (1982)

  (Adventure, Drama)

2. Spiel im Sand (1964)


3. Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes (1972)

  (Biography, Drama, History, Adventure)

4. Land des Schweigens und der Dunkelheit (1971)


5. Stroszek (1977)

  (Drama, Comedy)

6. Jeder für sich und Gott gegen alle (1974)

  (Biography, Drama, History)

7. The Look of Silence (2014)

  (Documentary, History, Biography)

8. Die große Ekstase des Bildschnitzers Steiner (1974)

  (Biography, Documentary, Sport)

9. The Act of Killing (2012)

  (History, Crime, Biography, Documentary)

10. La Soufrière - Warten auf eine unausweichliche Katastrophe (1977)

  (Documentary, Short, Biography)

See the events in life of Werner Herzog in Chronological Order

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