The wrath and reveries of Werner Herzog


For nearly half a century, Werner Herzog (b. 1942) has crafted films with audacity and fearless vision. First emerging as part of the groundbreaking German New Wave in the late 1960s, Herzog has continued to consistently produce mesmerising tales of obsession, conquest and the sublime. His films and documentaries blur the line between fact and fiction, reaching for higher, stranger truths. Although Herzog’s filmmaking is often overshadowed by the off-screen sagas surrounding his productions, his cinematic legacy is full of triumphs both grand and intimate in scale.


Werner Herzog

This free program ‘The wrath and reveries of Werner Herzog‘ (2 June – 19 August 2017) presents a wide selection of works drawn from the director’s storied career – from early German masterworks to Hollywood eccentricities, and all of the spellbinding documentaries in-between. It reveals a filmmaker with an artistic voice behind the camera that is as singular and recognisable as the actual one so often heard in front of it.

Production still from Aguirre, the Wrath of God 1972 / Director: Werner Herzog / Image courtesy: Werner Herzog Film GmbH

The opening night of the program highlights the dynamic breadth of this filmmaker’s body of work: at 6.00pm Fri 2 June, his entertaining and wonderfully engaging documentary about the internet and the digital world Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World 2016 will screen alongside the short film Plastic Bag 2009. Plastic Bag was directed by Herzog’s friend and fellow filmmaker Ramin Bahrani, and it uses Herzog’s iconic Bavarian brogue perfectly to narrate the existential unease of a plastic bag searching for its Maker. Afterwards, the haunting classic Aguirre, the Wrath of God 1972 will screen at 8.15pm. The film is the nightmarish tale of a group of conquistadors travelling down the Amazon in search of the mythic El Dorado – instead, they find only death and madness.

Production still from Nosferatu the Vampyre 1979 / Director: Werner Herzog / Image courtesy: Werner Herzog Film GmbH

Herzog’s renowned series of collaborations with lead actor Klaus Kinski (Aguirre, the Wrath of God 1972, Nosferatu the Vampyre 1979, Woyzeck 1979, Fitzcarraldo 1982, Cobra Verde 1987) will all screen from 35mm film prints generously supplied by Deutsche Kinemathek in Berlin – a rare opportunity to see these classics of German cinema in their original format.

Production still from Fitzcarraldo 1982 / Director: Werner Herzog / Image courtesy: Werner Herzog Film GmbH
Production still from Land of Silence and Darkness 1971 / Director: Werner Herzog / Image courtesy: Werner Herzog Film GmbH

The program also features many of the director’s enthralling documentaries. Herzog is a rare filmmaker who has continuously produced both feature films and documentary works of a consistently high calibre. An early documentary, the deeply moving Land of Silence and Darkness 1971 (1.00pm Sat 10 June), will appear in a special 16mm presentation. The documentary follows Fini Straubinger, a German woman who became deaf and blind in her childhood and who subsequently dedicated her life to helping others who struggled to communicate.

Production still from Into the Inferno 2016 / Director: Werner Herzog / Image courtesy: Netflix

Included also are two rare theatrical screenings of one of Herzog’s most recent titles, the stunning volcano documentary Into the Inferno 2016 (8.00pm Fri 7 July and 3.00pm Sat 5 August). The film is a Netflix original production and has almost only been seen on laptops and TVs around the world. Now, the spectacular eruptions and mighty blasts of the volcanoes can be seen and heard at the GOMA cinema.

Werner Herzog is one of the greatest of all living filmmakers and these extraordinary pieces of cinema should not be missed on the big screen.

Robert Hughes is Curatorial Assistant, Australian Cinémathèque, QAGOMA.

QAGOMA acknowledges the generous assistance of Werner Herzog Film GmbH, Vienna; the National Film and Sound Archive, Canberra; and the Deutsche Kinemathek, Berlin in providing materials for this program. Program curated by Robert Hughes, Australian Cinémathèque.

Feature image: Production still from My Best Fiend 1999 / Director: Werner Herzog / Image courtesy: Werner Herzog Film GmbH

Through a Glass, Darkly: The Films of Ingmar Bergman


Ingmar Bergman is one of the true luminaries of post-war European cinema. In a career lasting more than half a century, he crafted films with a passion and potency matched by few other directors. His films are known for their explication of deep religious concerns, their heartfelt understanding of the intricacies of human relationships, and for their arrestingly beautiful imagery.

Production still from 'Fanny and Alexander' 1982 / Director: Ingmar Bergman / Image courtesy: National Film and Sound Archive
Production still from ‘Fanny and Alexander’ 1982 / Director: Ingmar Bergman / Image courtesy: National Film and Sound Archive

Through a Glass, Darkly: The Films of Ingmar Bergman’ is a free cinema program running from Wednesday 1 March to Sunday 19 March 2017. It explores a selection of Bergman’s key directorial works, illustrating the development and breadth of his oeuvre. These films are presented alongside a special, ticketed screening of Victor Sjöström’s The Phantom Carriage 1921, the single greatest influence on Bergman’s cinematic output, on Friday 3 March at 8.00pm.

Production still from 'The Best Intentions' 1992 / Director: Bille August / Image courtesy: Park Circus
Production still from ‘The Best Intentions’ 1992 / Director: Bille August / Image courtesy: Park Circus

Outside of Bergman’s work, the program also includes a screening of Trespassing Bergman 2013 on Wednesday 1 March at 6.00pm, a terrifically entertaining documentary which features a veritable galaxy of stars discussing the enduring legacy of Bergman’s films, while documenting their visits to his home on the Swedish island of Fårö. Also featured is a rare presentation of Bille August’s The Best Intentions 1992 on Sunday 12 March at 1.30pm. The Palme d’Or winning film was written by Bergman himself and acts as a study of the early years in the relationship between his parents. The Best Intentions was filmed by August after Bergman had announced his retirement (from which he would later return for Saraband 2003, screening on Saturday 18 March at 3.00pm), but is no mere imitation of the great director – it exists as its own exemplary achievement of grand familial drama.

Production still from 'Trespassing Bergman' 2013 / Director: Jane Magnusson, Hynek Pallas / Image courtesy: First Hand Films
Production still from ‘Trespassing Bergman’ 2013 / Director: Jane Magnusson, Hynek Pallas / Image courtesy: First Hand Films

After an initially inauspicious start in the Swedish film industry, Bergman found critical acclaim and burgeoning attention from audiences with films such as the erotically charged Summer with Monika 1953 (Saturday 4 March 1.00pm). Subsequently, the grand triumph of Smiles of a Summer Night 1955 (Saturday 4 March 3.00pm) further cemented his international reputation as a director of note. He followed up this success with the release of two films, The Seventh Seal 1957 (Friday 3 March 6.00pm and Wednesday 15 March 7.45pm) and Wild Strawberries 1957 (Wednesday 15 March 6.00pm and Sunday 19 March 11.00am), that would establish the thematic path he would follow for much of the rest of his career.

From this point onwards, Bergman focused intently on writing and directing films that dealt honestly (sometimes painfully so) with the ideas that so preoccupied his thoughts: God and faith, aging and mortality, the relationships between men and women, filial love, and the wandering escape of childhood.

Production still from 'The Seventh Seal' 1957 / Director: Ingmar Bergman / Image courtesy: National Film and Sound Archive
Production still from ‘The Seventh Seal’ 1957 / Director: Ingmar Bergman / Image courtesy: National Film and Sound Archive

However, Bergman was not a mere pedagogue and his cinematic talents were great. He could mix the harshness of realism with the logic of dreams; he could enrich surrealism with brutal sincerity. Along with his cinematographers (in particular his long-term collaborator Sven Nykvist), he produced some of the iconic images of cinema: from the two faces blending together in Persona 1966 to the knight and Death playing chess on the beach in The Seventh Seal.

His recurring repertory of actors – including Max von Sydow, Liv Ullmann and Ingrid Thulin, among others – gave life to his words with consistently powerful and moving performances. They inhabited Bergman’s characters, understanding the critical subtleties needed to render complex portraits of life. Their success was rewarded with accolades from around the world, along with four Academy Awards for Bergman as director.

This program will draw out the themes that recurred over the course of his career and explore the cinematic sphere of the great filmmaker – his work, his influences, and his continuing legacy.

Production still from 'The Phantom Carriage' 1921 / Director: Victor Sjöström / Image courtesy: National Film and Sound Archive
Production still from ‘The Phantom Carriage’ 1921 / Director: Victor Sjöström / Image courtesy: National Film and Sound Archive

8.00pm Fri 3 March 2017 | GOMA Cinema A

Join us on Friday 3 March 2017 for a screening of Victor Sjöström’s The Phantom Carriage 1921, featuring live musical accompaniment from Brisbane band Blank Realm. The film will be screened from an archival 35mm film print, courtesy of the National Film and Sound Archive, Canberra.

Shakespeare on Screen

Production still from All Night Long 1962 / Director: Basil Dearden / Image courtesy: Park Circus

Shakespeare on Screen’ is a celebration of the timeless power of the works of William Shakespeare. This free cinema program commemorates the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death by screening a collection of the most inventive, well-crafted, and beloved films inspired by the Bard.

The program offers a taste of the long and storied history of screen adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays. From the silent The Merchant of Venice 1923 (Screens 11am Saturday 23 April) through to 2015’s Macbeth (Screens 6pm Friday 29 April), the films featured here illustrate the enduring appeal of these classic texts and their continuing relevance to modern audiences.

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]Production still from Macbeth 2015 / Director: Justin Kurzel / Image courtesy: Transmission Films

Beyond the more traditional adaptations that have been included – ‘traditional’ in the sense that the filmmakers have attempted to faithfully recreate the substance of the original plays for screen – the program also delves into those films within the diaspora of Shakespearean cinema. Here, the original text is a mere launching pad for the filmmakers to explore new locations, eras, narratives, and any other concepts that spring to life.

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Production still from Korol Lir (King Lear) 1971 / Director: Grigori Kozintsev / Image courtesy: Contemporary Films

The breadth of cinematic vision can be seen in the diversity of films on offer in the program, wherein Shakespeare’s works are run through filters of schlock Tromeo and Juliet 1996 (Screens 8.30pm Friday 13 May), Theatre of Blood 1972 (Screens 8pm Wednesday 25 May), postmodernism Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead 1990 (Screens 8.15pm Friday 22 April and 6pm Friday 20 May), King Lear1987 (Screens 8pm Friday 20 May), science-fiction Forbidden Planet 1956(Screens 12.30pm Saturday 30 April) and revisionist history Richard III 1996 (Screens 8pm Wednesday 27 April and 25 May), Coriolanus 2008 (Screens 8pm Wednesday 27 April).

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Production still from Romeo + Juliet 1996 / Director: Baz Luhrmann / Image courtesy: Hollywood Classics

‘Shakespeare on Screen’ is littered with unforgettable performances from major actors – featuring a baby-faced Leonardo DiCaprio in Romeo + Juliet 1996 (Screens 6pm Friday 22 April and 6 May ), a ruthless Ian McKellen in Richard III 1996, a crazed Toshiro Mifune in Throne of Blood 1957 (Screens 6pm Wednesday 4 May), and a forceful Michael Fassbender in Macbeth 2015, among so many others. The program is also a chance to see icons of Shakespearean stage and screen at their finest, with opening weekend appearances from Orson Welles as Falstaff in his final narrative feature Chimes at Midnight 1965 (Screens 12.30pm Sunday 24 April), Laurence Olivier in Henry V 1944 (Screens 2.45pm Sunday 24 April), and Kenneth Branagh leading the all-star cast of Hamlet 1996 (Screens 1pm Monday 25 April).

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Production still from Ran 1985 / Director: Akira Kurosawa / Image courtesy: StudioCanal

Two of the masters of world cinema are represented through the inclusion of Akira Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood 1957 and Ran 1985 (Screens 6.30pm Wednesday 11 May), and rare screenings of Grigori Kozintsev’s Hamlet 1964 (Screens 8.25pm Wednesday 4 May) and King Lear 1971 (Screens 2.45pm Saturday 7 May). These titles transport Shakespeare to the mists of feudal Japan and the harsh plains of Eastern Europe, respectively, and consequently give new shape and feel to the original texts. Further, Jean-Luc Godard appears through his English-language King Lear 1987, which finds the French New Wave legend tearing up the eponymous play in an idiosyncratic treatise on Shakespeare, adaptation, and post-modernism.

Kenneth Branagh in Hamlet
Production still from Hamlet 1996 / Director: Kenneth Branagh / Image courtesy: Roadshow

There are also films from two Australian directors: Baz Luhrmann and Justin Kurzel, who offer decidedly modern versions of their chosen plays. Lurhmann’s much-loved Romeo + Juliet 1996 exemplifies his trademark ostentatious visual and musical style, while Kurzel’s Macbeth 2015 carries the intensity of his debut Snowtown 2011 from South Australia to the Scottish highlands in a powerful take on the classic tragedy.

The Australian Cinémathèque is proud to present the majority of these films in their original 35mm format. The texture of real film adds colour and life to the vivid imagery of Julie Taymor’s Titus 1999 (Screens 6.30pm Wednesday 18 May); it adds depth and richness to the shadows of Akira Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood 1957; it adds crackle and grime to the sleaze of Troma’s Tromeo and Juliet 1996. These screenings are rare opportunities for audiences to be able to experience the films as they were originally intended to be seen.

In particular, it is a pleasure to be able to present Der Kaufmann von Venedig (The Merchant of Venice) 1923 (Screens 11am Saturday 23 April) – a silent German film loaned to us by the Bundearchiv (German Federal Archives).  It is a lavish production, with scores of extras and location shooting in Venice – making it a wonderful time capsule of the city almost 100 years ago. The film will feature live musical accompaniment from David Bailey on the Gallery’s 1929 Wurlitzer Organ.

The ‘Shakespeare on Screen’ cinema program will also include a forum day – to be held on Saturday April 23, the actual 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death – at which local scholars of Shakespeare will engage in a lively discussion around the history of Shakespearean adaptation and the continuing relevance of the plays for contemporary audiences.

Despite much of the tragedy on display throughout the films included in this program, ‘Shakespeare on Screen’ is a celebration of the Bard’s many masterpieces. There is everything one could hope for in cinema: love and death, comedy and betrayal, beauty and bloodshed – all inspired by the most frequently adapted author in film history.

Shakespeare on Screen Forum
1pm 23 April 2016 / Cinema A, GOMA
Please RSVP for this free event through Eventbrite.

Join prominent local scholars of Shakespeare at the Gallery of Modern Art for a discussion of the history of Shakespearean adaptation and the continuing relevance of the plays for contemporary audiences. Speakers will include: Professor Peter Holbrook (University of Queensland); Associate Professor Rob Pensalfini (University of Queensland); Associate Professor Laurie Johnson (University of Southern Queensland); Dr. Brandon Chua (University of Queensland); Dr. Christian Long (University of Queensland/QUT). The event will be chaired by University of Queensland lecturers, Dr. Jennifer Clement and Dr. Lisa Bode.

1pm  Opening Talk | Peter Holbrook “Shakespeare’s Afterlives”
1.30pm – 3pm Panel 1 | Roundtable Discussion “Why Shakespeare?”
3.30pm-5pm   Panel 2 | Roundtable Discussion “Shakespeare on Screen”

Presented by the QAGOMA, the UQ School of Communication and Arts, and the UQ Node of the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions (Europe 1100-1800).

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Production still from Richard III 1995 / Director: Richard Loncraine / Image courtesy: Park Circus

Australian Cinémathèque
GOMA is the only Australian art gallery with purpose-built facilities dedicated to film and the moving image and offers a rare opportunity to see films presented on the big screen as they were intended, and features many 35mm prints sourced from film archives around the world and screened in one of Australia’s last 35mm film venues.

QAGOMA thanks The National Film Centre, Tokyo; the National Film and Sound Archive, Canberra; Das Bundesarchiv, Berlin; and Filmoteca Española, Madrid for generously providing prints for this program.
Program curated by Robert Hughes, Australian Cinémathèque.