BFI Distribution announces today the forthcoming UK-wide theatrical release of the new feature documentary Werner Herzog: Radical Dreamer (2022) directed by Thomas von Steinaecker. This comprehensive portrait of the iconic German filmmaker opens in cinemas in the UK and Ireland on 19 January 2024.
The same date will see the return to the big screen of Werner Herzog’s hauntingly beautiful 1974 feature The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser for its 50th anniversary. Both films will be on extended run at BFI Southbank as part of the retrospective season, Journeys into the Unknown – Films by Werner Herzog running throughout January. Werner Herzog: Radical Dreamer will be released on BFI Player and BFI Blu-ray on 19 February 2024.
Master filmmaker, auteur, poet, truth seeker, explorer, brand, meme, actor, lauded voice artiste, doomsayer, legend… that’s Werner Herzog. This is the man, now 81, who had a 320-ton steamboat hauled over a steep hill in Peru, who hypnotises his actors, climbs down into volcanoes, talks to murderers on death row, cooks and eats his own shoe and was once shot at. He’s the man who lends his voice to The Simpsons, stars in blockbusters such as The Mandalorian and the man – who in an almost magical act – walked from Munich to Paris to prevent the death of a woman film critic he greatly admired. It is stories like these that have made this most remarkable director a cult figure the world over.
With exclusive behind-the-scenes access into Herzog’s everyday life, rare archive material and in-depth interviews with the man himself and celebrated collaborators – including Christian Bale, Nicole Kidman, and his wife Lena Herzog – we are given an exciting glimpse into his work process and personal life. Also appearing in the film are Joshua Oppenheimer, Robert Pattinson, Patti Smith, Carl Weathers, Wim Wenders and Chloe Zhao.
German director Thomas von Steinaecker (b. 1977) has received numerous awards for his novels, comic books, documentaries and radio plays. His body of work includes documentaries in which he focuses mainly on the music of the 20th century, such as that of the composers Karlheinz Stockhausen, Richard Strauss and Leonard Bernstein.
Werner Herzog: Radical Dreamer is produced by Wavelength, Spring Films and 3B-PRODUKTION in association with Hot Docs Partners. The producers are André Singer (a filmmaker and anthropologist whose award-winning film Night Will Fall was released by BFI Distribution in 2014), Bernhard von Hülsen and Maria Willer.
Back in cinemas to celebrate its 50th anniversary, The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser is a film of great poetic and philosophical resonance. Based on the remarkable true story of the foundling Kaspar Hauser, it is an eloquent, deeply moving account of a grown man, barely able to walk or talk, who appears suddenly in the town square of Nuremberg, Germany, in 1828, clutching a letter which claims that his name is Kaspar. His origins are shrouded in mystery but it seems that he has been imprisoned without human contact since childhood. He learns to speak and some attempt is made to integrate him into society. He is puzzled over and examined by a series of learned minds, some sympathetic, some hostile, yet he seems to defy analysis. Featuring a mesmerising performance by non-actor Bruno S. in the lead role, the film picked up three awards at the Cannes Film Festival. Other films have been made about Kaspar Hauser but Werner Herzog’s affecting, sensitive interpretation is surely the best of them.
BFI Southbank’s Werner Herzog season, Journeys into the Unknown – Films by Werner Herzog, is curated by Geoff Andrew. Over 20 films spanning Herzog’s long career will be screened from 1 to 31 January 2024; from his first feature Signs of Life (1968), through his best-known films including Aguirre, Wrath of God (1972), Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979) and Fitzcarraldo (1982) and curios like The Great Ecstasy of Woodcarver Steiner (1973), to more recent features such as Into the Abyss – A Tale of Death, A Tale of Life (2011) and The Fire Within: A Requiem for Katia and Maurice Kraff (2022). Full details of films and events will be released in due course.
An extensive collection of films by Werner Herzog can be streamed on BFI Player Subscription with four additional films available in Rentals. The Werner Herzog Collection BFI Blu-ray and DVD box sets, containing 18 films, are available from the BFI Shop and other retailers.
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