Subscribe to our newsletter

(Credit: Raffi Asdourian)


From Kurosawa to Kiarostami: Werner Herzog picks his top 5 films of all time


Werner Herzog, the hugely influential and pioneering German filmmaker, has curated a list of five of his favourite cinematic moments of all time.

Herzog, who made his first film in 1961 at the age of 19, has since enjoyed well over 50 prolific years in the filmmaking industry which has resulted in numerous critically acclaimed releases. French filmmaker François Truffaut, once called Herzog “the most important film director alive.”

Having focused most of his recent attention on the process of making documentaries, Herzog sat down with Rotten Tomatoes to discuss some of the films that have helped shape his cinematic vision over the years. “One might be Freaks by Tod Browning,” Herzog said when kicking off his list. “Oh, you just have to look at it. It’s just formidable, it’s phenomenal. You’ve gotta see it. It would take me an hour to explain.”

After referencing the likes of Tod Browning and F. W. Murnau, Herzog continued: “It is probably the only film that I’ve ever seen which has something like a perfect balance, which does not occur in filmmaking very often,” Herzog said of Akira Kurosawa’s 1950 film Rashomon.

“You sense it sometimes in great music, but I haven’t experienced it in cinema, and it’s mind-boggling. I don’t know how [Akira] Kurosawa did it. It’s still a mystery to me. That’s greatness.”

See the full list, below.

Werner Herzog’s top 5 films of all time:

  • Freaks – Tod Browning, 1932.
  • Intolerance – D. W. Griffith, 1916.
  • Where Is the Friend’s Home? – Abbas Kiarostami, 1987.
  • Rashomon – Akira Kurosawa, 1950.
  • Nosferatu – F. W. Murnau, 1922.

Herzog, who famously created his own version of F. W. Murnau’s now-iconic film Nosferatu, explained his reasoning for taking on the project: “Well, I needed to connect to the great films of the grandfather generation, because our parents, our father generation, was a complete disaster and many of them sided with the barbarism of the Nazis,” he said. “Somehow, you can only really make films embedded in the history of your own culture, and history was disrupted dramatically by the most barbaric regime you can ever find anywhere.

” o for me it was important to get some solid ground under my feet, connect with the grandfathers, connect with the greatest of them, and in my opinion, the greatest of great films is Nosferatu by [F.W.] Murnau, which I should include in the greatest five films of all time.”

(Via Rotten Tomatoes)