Exhibition, Films, Talks & Events
The Ecstatic Truth
18 June — 1 October 2023
This exhibition features an insight into the way Herzog perceives the world. The ‘ecstatic truth’ - that is central to his work - reflects on Herzog’s fundamental quest, how he constructs and stylises images that expose this deeper level of truth: “I’m modifying facts in such a degree that they resemble truth more than reality.”
Eye Filmmuseum presents an exhibition and extensive film programme around the work of celebrated filmmaker Werner Herzog. With an unorthodox oeuvre of more than seventy features, documentaries and shorts, Herzog has fascinated audiences with unforgettable stories, images and characters for more than half a century. His films grant us insights into the relationship between people and the chaotic world around them, as well as into the endless indifference of nature towards human life.
In his work, Herzog seeks out those places on our planet that seem most other-worldly. He points his camera at people who live and survive in extreme circumstances – from scientists in Antarctica to child soldiers. The filmmaker feels a great affinity with the dreamers, obsessives, the solitary rebels and the marginalised, who for whatever reasons stray from the well-trodden path. By telling the stories of these exceptional individuals, Herzog at the same time manages to tell bigger stories about human existence. He comes across as a cool observer, but one with incredible empathy. His deep interest in rushing technological developments also inspires many of his films.
The space is built up around a selection of key scenes from Herzog’s oeuvre, with iconic images from films such as Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht (1979), Fitzcarraldo (1982), Little Dieter Needs to Fly (1997) and Grizzly Man (2004). In addition, documents, archival items and props from the Werner Herzog Archive are on display and introduce his team. The exhibition was conceived and organised in cooperation with Deutsche Kinemathek, Berlin, which manages the Archive.
Herzog strives to capture the human condition in our times and, in his own words, explore “the inner landscapes of the soul”. If you’re only interested in dry reality – the accountant’s reality – Herzog says, you’d be better off just watching surveillance cameras. This director is no ‘fly on the wall’: he prefers to see himself as a furious wasp, impossible to avoid.
The filmmaker's sincere interest in fellow human beings, including marginalised or excluded people, runs like a red thread through his oeuvre. He is interested in people who live off the beaten track, who, for whatever reason, have to 'fight' for their existence, who are not understood by society.
With his irrepressible drive to make films, Herzog has inspired generations of film-lovers and filmmakers. In doing so, he never avoids controversy: the Herzog film that does not provoke discussion has yet to be made. His voice – instantly recognisable in voice-over – and his cultivated, no-nonsense image have made him an almost mythical cult figure, which appears in numerous memes on the internet.
“I think all dreams are yours too; the only difference between you and I is that I [as a filmmaker, ed.] can put them into words. And that is what poetry, painting, literature or film is all about. It's that simple.”
About Werner Herzog
Werner Herzog (1942, Munich) made his first film at the age of 19. Since then he has completed more than 70 films, and is still active today from his current base in Los Angeles: as well making films he is involved in acting, writing, directing opera and the Rogue Film School, which he set up. Films such as Auch Zwerge haben klein angefangen (1971) and Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes (1972) established him as one of the most important post-war German filmmakers alongside Wim Wenders and Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Films including Nosferatu (1979), Fitzcarraldo (1982), Lektionen in Finsternis (1992) and Mein liebster Feind (1999) deservedly occupy a special place in international independent film history. Herzog’s work has won many awards, and it would not be far-fetched to say that ‘Herzogian’ has become a genre in itself: epic, compelling, uncompromising and unmistakably twentieth-century.
Podcast: Herzog on Herzog
Based on the idea that no one is able talk about Herzog as well as Herzog himself, curator Jaap Guldemond and film programmer Thijs Havens chose six statements by the almost mythical filmmaker to shed light on his ideas about film and his way of working. (The podcast is spoken in Dutch, with original German quotes by Werner Herzog.)
Films, talks & events
Some thirty films have been selected for the film programme and will screen in Eye’s cinemas during the exhibition. Four of these are being released by Eye and will screen nationwide. There will also be an extensive programme of events, introductions and live music. This includes room for a multitude of reflections on his oeuvre, from fans and critics alike.
Free guided tour
Every Sunday at 14:00 and 15:00, a guide takes you on a tour (in Dutch) through the exhibition upon presentation of a valid exhibition ticket.
Sunday 23 July, 20 August and 17 September at 15:15, a Dutch Sign Language interpreter will give a guided tour. You can sign up by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
There's a special tour for students of secondary school and higher education.