Werner Herzog and the Aesthetics of the Grotesque

  • B. R. Sebok


EVEN DWARFS STARTED SMALL: WERNER HERZOG AND THE AESTHETICS OF THE GROTESQUE IntroductionRarely in modern cinema has a film fully engaged with the ribald grotesquery and carnival aesthetics of bygone theatre and literature. Perhaps, as was the case in the grotesque theatre, audiences are reluctant to identify with characters and plots wrought with fundamental contradictions and mythical intellectuality. It seems that to explore the grotesque in the "modern" cinema, the director must stand outside of mainstream national and ideological consciousness. It is fitting then, that Werner Herzog would fully engage with the grotesque aesthetic and the mystical history it entails. Herzog, the "dreamer of new dreams, teller of new truths, and seeker of new images," working both within and outside of the auspices of the New German Cinema movement, visualizes for his audiences a complex amalgam of history, mythology, and ideology.(1) He, in creating what is best...