Films Men Should See (Werner Herzog Documentaries)

Werner Herzog is not your normal director.

He is incredibly prolific and has made over 50 films. Many of them are brilliant, they are all interesting, and each one is completely unique.

Artists that speak to me the most have their own distinct voice, message, and style–and Herzog is unlike any other filmmaker I have ever seen.

I’m focusing on his documentaries in this post and sticking to the themes of Nature and wilderness. These are two very common topics in his films, and play a huge part of the story and backdrop in most of his work.

In the future, I’ll review and recommend some of his great adventure films.

Happy People: A Year in the Tiaga (2010)

If you have ever dreamed about living on your own in the wilderness, hunting your own food, building a shelter, and truly living off the land–this documentary will interest you.

It takes you to the tiaga wilderness in Siberia and follows trappers that live there through a year in their lives. It doesn’t romanticize their relationship with the harsh landscape, but shows you how much they have to work and innovate, just to be able to survive.

One of my favorite parts of this film is how it portrays the relationship between the hunter and his dog. These animals can be trained to be incredible partners and essential to survival in the outback.

Encounters at the End of the World (2007)

One of my favorite documentaries of all time. This takes you to one of the most remote and fascinating parts of the world–Antarctica and shows you what goes on with those that live there. As mentioned in the beginning of the film–this is not a movie about penguins.

The most interesting thing about this film are the portraits of the types of people that end up in Antarctica. From the bus driver to the guy who serves ice cream in the cafeteria–every single person who finds his way to the ‘end of the world’ has a fascinating story to tell.

And the underwater footage that is captured here is like nothing you will ever see. It really does look like an atmosphere set on a planet in a far away galaxy.

I’ve watched this with many different girls, and they have all loved it–I highly recommended to view it with a new lover. Its a film that can be watched many times over and will reveal something new each time.

Grizzly Man (2005)

A character study of an eccentric man whose delusional view of Nature ends up leading to his demise.

Timothy Treadwell spent 13 summers living in the backcountry of Alaska and interacting with the wild grizzly bears that lived there. He became so comfortable around them that he would approach them, allow them to investigate his camp (and himself), and swim with them while they were hunting.

This motherfucker documented much of his time living with the bears and Herzog went through over 100 hours of film, including the video taped recording of the mauling and death of Treadwell by a grizzly, and pieced together the footage into something comprehensible and fascinating.

One thing Werner Herzog does better than anyone else is create sketches of some of the most interesting people who have ever lived. He does it in Grizzly Man with brilliant storytelling, interviews, and philosophical musings on the nature of animal behavior.

Watch this and use it as a reminder to keep your grandiose thoughts in check.

For more film recommendations, visit this page and explore. 

Below is a great short film narrated by Werner Herzog. Its about the life of a plastic bag and existential crisis.


About Goldmund

Goldmund grew up a wild-child and was constantly being disciplined. Using ancient rituals and game, he broke free from the shackles of his mind and the norms of this backwards society. He frequents bars in Brooklyn, mountains in Mexico, and retreats to the desert. His passions are nature and women.

7 comments on “Films Men Should See (Werner Herzog Documentaries)

    • Got to see that one at IFC here in New York when it came out. With 3D glasses on! Was a great experience.

      Looking forward when we get to meet up and discuss our roots back to the common ancestor..

    • Hey quintus. Can’t reply to you on returnofkings because I’m banned for some unknown reason. And as there is no private message feature on disqus……was wondering if you could help a guy out and unban me over on returnofkings. I’m not sure if the site thought my account or email was spam. Would be nice to respond to articles in the comment section again….

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