Close Up

27 September 2017: Werner Herzog: Early Shorts


The Unprecedented Defence of Fortress Deutschkreuz
Werner Herzog
1966 | 15 min | Colour | Digital

A run-down castle piques the curiosity of four young men. When they discover uniforms and weapons left behind by occupation forces, they start to play war games. Because there’s no enemy available, their aggressions need another outlet.

Last Words
Werner Herzog
1968 | 14 min | B/W | Digital

Shot on Crete and the ghost island Spinalonga. A film about a hermit who is brought back to civilisation, where he refuses to speak; meanwhile, other members of society obsessively repeat themselves to the point of nonsense. This film would mark the start of Herzog’s investigation into human language, and his continued steps toward increasing narrative stylisation.

Precautions against Fanatics
Werner Herzog
1969 | 12 min | Colour | Digital

An outraged old man declares himself the protector of race horses and fights against fanatic trainers.

How Much Wood Would a Woodchuck Chuck
Werner Herzog
1976 | 45min | Colour | Digital

At the World Livestock Auctioneer Championships in New Holland, Pennsylvania, contestants test their verbal skills and speed. Beyond the competition and an interview with the winner, Herzog also touches on the Amish population located in the area.

“A documentary account of the World Championship contest for livestock auctioneers, conducted in the Amish country of Pennsylvania… Since the auctioneers’ language is unintelligible to anyone save potential cattle buyers, the film becomes a study of gestures, a chance to view the contestants’ near-fanatical animation in abstract terms. The auctioneers’ absolute dedication to an unfathomable craft has the kind of freakishness that has often fascinated Herzog in the past, and here he once again examines odd behavior with distance and clarity.” – Janet Maslin

Part of our season on Werner Herzog