Tuesday 13 February 2024

Werner Herzog: Radical Dreamer (2022)

"Fine Profile of a Living Legend"

Thomas von Steinaeker's documentary of the iconic German film-maker is getting a Blu-ray release from the BFI. 

It was always going to be difficult to provide a summary of the man and his work in 90 minutes, but von Steinaeker does an excellent job of getting Herzog himself to do most of the talking, taking us through important moments (and locations) from his childhood and then talking a little about most (but by no means all) of his films.

As such RADICAL DREAMER provides and excellent introduction to Herzog and his films, such that you don't really need to have any prior knowledge of him to enjoy this and find it supremely educational. You also don't necessarily even need to know who the other interview subjects are, but chances are you'll have heard of Robert Pattinson, Christian Bale and Nicole Kidman even if you're not so familiar with Wim Wenders or Volker Schlöndorff.

If you are a seasoned Herzog fan then you'll still find the above's comments providing fascinating insights. His relationship with Klaus Kinski is touched upon for long enough for anyone to take home the fact that Kinski frequently acted like a madman and that Herzog obviously did an excellent job of either controlling that madness, or throwing it straight back at him. Probably the best compliment RADICAL DREAMER can be given is that it had me checking my shelves to ensure my Herzog collection was complete because it's been too long since I've watched one of his movies.

Extras on the BFI's Blu-ray consist of an extra 15 minutes of interview footage, a gallery of poster art from Herzog films, and a trailer for the documentary. There's also THE COLONIST, a short film from Robert A Smith whom Herzog mentored. It's an atmospheric piece with some striking landscape visuals and filled with vivid colour and well worth spending ten minutes watching. The first pressing of the disc also comes with a booklet featuring new writing on Herzog. Here's a trailer:

WERNER HERZOG: RADICAL DREAMER is out on Blu-ray from the BFI on Monday 19th February 2024

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