The Enigma of Werner Herzog

by Nick Milton

German cinema was dealt a vicious blow during WWII and the years following. Joseph Goebbels, after being promoted to the Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, formed the Reich Chamber of Film, which unsurprisingly banned Jews and Foreigners from the now nationally controlled film industry. This resulted in numerous German directors, producers, and actors fleeing their homeland and finding employment in Hollywood. This list includes such notables as Michael Curtiz (Casablanca), Billy Wilder (Some Like it Hot), Peter Lorre, Marlene Dietrich, and Fritz Lang. In fact, Fritz Lang left Germany because Goebbels himself, after watching Metropolis, had expressed his desire to make Lang head up his Propaganda Film Unit. Germany’s Murnaus and Dreyers were replaced by specially appointed directors whose sole purpose was to instill in the German people national pride.

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