We don't hear much from German director Werner Herzog these days, so this opportune collection lets us see just what made him such a disturbing, iconoclastic presence in the boom years of the New German Cinema. Here we have five startlingly individual, visionary movies from the '70s, his finest decade.
Fata Morgana (literally `Mirage') is a shifting, surreal montage of desert footage, shot by Herzog on an African expedition where he was slung in jail as a suspected mercenary. Even Dwarfs Started Small, set on the barren island of Lanzarote, features a prison community of small people doing unspeakable things to each other, a savage parody of society in extremis. For the title role in The Enigma Of Kaspar Hauser, the true case of a feral youth in 1820s Nuremberg who was kept locked up and isolated from infancy, Herzog chose Bruno S, who had spent most of his life in mental hospitals. Bruno reappears in Stroszek, Herzog's bleak take on the American Dream, where with two companions he quits Berlin for the pitiless wilds of Wisconsin. And for Heart Of Glass, a doom-laden parable set in a 19th-century Bavarian glassworks, Herzog put his entire cast under hypnosis. Visionary, mad, brave filmmaking. Recommended.