Name at birth: Werner Stipetic
Film critics can't seem to decide whether Werner Herzog is a genius or charlatan, but his position as one of the most well-known German "new wave" filmmakers of the late 20th century is assured. Known for making allegorical films in exotic locations, Werner Herzog worked briefly in American television before making documentaries and short subjects. He has a reputation for an intense -- some would say obsessive -- vision and commitment, but naysayers harp on his storytelling deficiencies. The movies that made his career starred Klaus Kinski and include Aguirre: The Wrath of God (1973), Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht (1978) and Fitzcarraldo (1982). In recent years he has had more commercial success and found a broader audiences with the films Grizzly Man (2005, about Timothy Treadwell) and Rescue Dawn (2006, starring Christian Bale) as Herzog's friend Dieter Dengler).
Herzog made a documentary about Kinski called My Best Fiend (1999, original title Mein liebster Feind)… The 1982 documentary Burden of Dreams was a behind-the-scenes look at the filming of Fitzcarraldo.