Before They Were Stars: Werner Herzog’s First Short Film

It’s Werner Herzog’s birthday today and since The Back Row can never get enough Werner Herzog material, he definitely deserves the “Before They Were Stars” treatment for his directorial debut, an eight-minute 1962 German short film called Herakles. On a cold viewing, you will probably have no friggin’ idea what this film is supposed to be about, except that you get to see a LOT of footage of bodybuilders working out to jazz music, with questions written in German popping up on the screen every now and then. In actuality, Herakles was intended as a metaphorical interpretation of the labours of Hercules and you’re best to check out its Wikipedia page to get the full explanation for it. I wouldn’t worry about spending too much time analyzing it, however, since even Herzog himself has said: “Looking back on Herakles today, I find the film rather stupid and pointless”.

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