German film director.
Born in Munich, Herzog studied literature and theatre in Germany and at the University of Pittsburgh; he then worked in American television before starting to make his own short films. In its uncompromising originality his 1971 feature debut Even Dwarfs Started Small set the tone for much of his later work. Herzog's Aguirre, Wrath of God (1974) portrays the obsessiveness that drove the Spanish conquistadors to seek El Dorado even at the cost of self-destruction; its steamy setting and depiction of the collapse of civilized values inspired comparisons with Conrad's Heart of Darkness.
The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (1975) dramatized the true story of a feral child of the early nineteenth century who appeared to have remarkable abilities. Nosferatu, the Vampyre (1979) reworked a traditional European folklore theme in a style deliberately reminiscent of the silent German Expressionist school of the 1920s. The epic Fitzcarraldo (1982) once again deals with the theme of obsession in a jungle setting; it won Herzog the best director award at Cannes. His most recent films include Cobra Verde (1988) and Lessons of Darkness (1992). Herzog's obsessive protagonists were often been depicted by the German actor Klaus Kinski (1926–91).
Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).