New German Cinema: Notable Films From the 1960s, 70s, and 80s
Annotation:1972. Directed by Werner Herzog. Starring Klaus Kinski. The story follows the travels of Spanish soldier Lope de Aguirre, who leads a group of conquistadores down the Amazon River in South America in search of the legendary city of gold, El Dorado. Using a minimalist story and dialogue, the film creates a vision of madness and folly, counterpointed by the lush but unforgiving Amazonian jungle. Although based loosely on what is known of the historical figure of Aguirre, the film's story line is, as Herzog acknowledged years after the film's release, a work of imagination.
Annotation: 1979. Directed by Werner Herzog. Starring Klaus Kinski and Eva Mattes. "Franz Woyzeck is a hapless, hopeless soldier, alone and powerless in society, assaulted from all sides by forces he cannot control. Abused and tortured, both physically and psychologically by commanding officers, doctors and his unfaithful wife, Marie, Woyzeck struggles to hold on to his humanity and his fragile sanity.” – Container
Annotation:1982. Directed by Werner Herzog. Starring Klaus Kinski as the title character. Story of a man obsessed with a dream to build his own personal opera house in a remote Peruvian town, but who must pull a steamship over a steep hill in order to access a rich rubber territory. The film is derived from the real-life story of Peruvian rubber baron Carlos Fitzcarrald.
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When the 1962 Oberhausen Manifesto--signed by two dozen German filmmakers pledging themselves to "the new German feature film"--announced the arrival of New German Cinema, it was as much a rebellion of young directors against the propriety of the moribund German film industry as a new way of presenting images. In the late sixties and early seventies, filmmakers such as Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Margarethe von Trotta, Volker Schlöndorff, Wim Wenders, Werner Herzog, Alexander Kluge, and Hans-Jürgen Syberberg set out to create cinematic art on a smaller scale; movies that were independently-minded and artistically challenging and which would examine the state of contemporary Germany. Like other countries’ new waves, New German Cinema, whose end is placed in the mid-eighties, evaded easy political or artistic categorization, but whose boldness and radical ambition was unmistakable.