cover image Scenarios


Werner Herzog, trans. from the German by Martje Herzog and Alan Greenberg. Univ. of Minnesota, $22.95 (248p) ISBN 978-1-5179-0390-9

Acclaimed German filmmaker Herzog (Conquest of the Useless) who has, to this point, made more than 70 films, returns to print in this compulsively readable, probing collection. The four scenarios collected here are what the publisher calls “urtexts” of some of his most acclaimed films, written before filming as extended prose pieces rather than traditional film scripts. The synopses for the films—Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972), Every Man for Himself and God Against All (1974), Land of Silence and Darkness (1971), and Fitzcarraldo (1982)—are written in a simple and declarative prose style, albeit with typically Herzogian touches, as when Fitzcarraldo describes “birds rejoic[ing] with their infernal jubilation.” Particularly with regard to Aguirre and Fitzcarraldo, Herzog’s two films set within the South American jungle, the text provides a lucid, poetic commentary on the filmmaker’s intentions. Also notable are the areas of divergence between these texts and what eventually appeared on screen, including a different ending for Aguirre. This book, the first in a projected series, should become essential reading for cinephiles and scholars of Herzog’s work. Like the best of his films, it’s equal parts challenging and satisfying, infuriating and enlightening. (Oct.)