The Honors College Distinguished Lecture Series at Boise State University will present Werner Herzog, screenwriter, film director, author, actor and opera director, at 7 p.m. Monday, April 9, at the Morrison Center for the Performing Arts.
The event is free and open to the public. No tickets are required and free parking will be available.
Herzog was born in Germany in the midst of World War II. He is a leader of the postwar cinema movement in West Germany, a distinction he shares with directors like Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Wim Wenders. Herzog’s films typically portray characters in extreme physical and psychological situations, and often in conflict with nature.
As a recent article in Rolling Stone noted, he has chronicled “the weird, the wild and the obsessed” in more than 70 films over the course of 55 years, continually asking the question, “how far is too far?” in both feature films and documentaries. As one example, he shot “Heart of Glass” (1976), a story about a Bavarian glassmaker taking his technique for making ruby glass to his grave, with the entire cast under hypnosis.
Herzog’s most well-known films include “Aguirre,” “Wrath of God” (1972), which tells the story of a 16th-century Spanish explorer leading a hopeless expedition in search of a city of gold; “Grizzly Man” (2005), a documentary about an animal activist, ultimately killed by a bear, and “Fitzcarraldo” (1982), the story of a man determined to pull a steamship over a Peruvian mountain to reach a rich rubber territory. Filming took two years. Herzog’s crew famously pulled a real steamship over a mountain — a feat that inspired its own documentary.
More recent projects also take audiences to new territories, literally and figuratively. Herzog filmed volcano scientists and live volcanos in his 2016 Netflix documentary “Into the Inferno.” And he delved into the impact of the Internet and the virtual world on human life in the 2016 documentary, “Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World.”
The topic of Herzog’s talk in Boise is timely as well: “Fake News and Ecstatic Truth.”
“Herzog is a person who brings an alternative perspective to questions of nature and reality. His films are a commentary on what it means to be human,” said Andrew Finstuen, dean of the Honors College. “His body of work is so vast, almost anyone can find something to connect to.”
Along with his more rarified works, Herzog once voiced a character for an episode of the animated series “The Simpsons” and directed a crime drama, “The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans,” starring Nicholas Cage.
As Boise State celebrates the creation of its School of the Arts, Herzog’s visit marks the first time a filmmaker has come to campus through the Distinguished Lecture Series, said Finstuen.
The series features speakers who have had a major impact in politics, the arts, science, business or other realms of contemporary significance. Former speakers in the series include Nobel Prize-winning physicist Carl Wieman, author Sir Salman Rushdie, Nobel Laureate in economics Joseph Stiglitz, biologist E.O. Wilson, Nobel Peace Prize recipient and former president of Poland Lech Walesa, environmental architect William McDonough, investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, author Sarah Lewis and others.