cover image Scenarios III

Scenarios III

Werner Herzog, trans. from the German by Krishna Winston. Univ. of Minnesota, $22.95 (232p) ISBN 978-1-5179-0781-5

This third collection of German film director Herzog’s scripts represents a worthy addition to the series, and a further glimpse into the mind and work of an eccentric genius. The “scenarios”—Stroszek (1977), Nosferatu, Phantom of the Night (1979), Where the Green Ants Dream (1984), and Cobra Verde (1987)—don’t resemble traditional screenplays. Instead they take the form of hybrid texts that combine elements of novels, prose poetry, and limited bits of the standard screenplay format. And form follows function, because, as this book makes clear, Herzog’s films are decidedly nontraditional, following outsiders and radicals rather than traditionally relatable protagonists. Herzog’s writing evinces his ability to capture multiple facets of his bizarre, often grotesque characters, and to find humanity in them even at their most despicable. He can take the slave-trading antihero of Cobra Verde from megalomania to despair within several scenes, and convey the sorrow and the horror of Nosferatu’s Count Dracula on the very same page. Herzog also offers splendidly evocative descriptions, as in Nosferatu’s scene description of a coast upon which “wreck lies next to wreck, as if all the ships have sunk, one after the other.” Herzog is already known as an extraordinary filmmaker, and this book furnishes proof that he is an equally extraordinary writer. (Nov.)