Happy Birthday, Herzog

Werner Herzog has never been what you would call the retiring type. The peripatetic German director marked his 65th birthday last week not with a cake or a nap or a round of miniature golf, but with the premiere of a new documentary, Encounters at the End of the World, at the Telluride Film Festival. This comes on the heels of Rescue Dawn, Herzog’s riveting yet atypically straightforward dramatization of captured Vietnam War pilot Dieter Dengler’s escape, recounted in his earlier doc, Little Dieter Needs to Fly. Herzog remains one of the most iconoclastic moviemakers around, as well as the hardest working man in filmdom, but he’s not quite the wild man who battled Klaus Kinski and recalcitrant (read sensible) extras 25 years ago on the Amazon set of Fitzcarraldo. Herzog’s foray into the jungle was almost as demented as that of his protagonist, a stubborn, foolish continental with the fantasy of erecting an opera house in an uninhabited corner of Peru. East Bay documentary maker Les Blank was there to capture the hysterics and hilarity; his 1982 masterwork, Burden of Dreams, is one of the great movies about filmmakers. As for Herzog, he’s further proof that 65 is the new 55.
Tue., Sept. 18, 7:15 & 9:20 p.m.

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