(Photo by MGM/courtesy Everett Collection)

All Werner Herzog Movies Ranked

The cosmically dry, low-key hilarious Werner Herzog has transformed himself into a global treasure over the span of a six decade career. For a guy famous from cinematic pursuits involving dwarf-only casts, pushing a steamboat up a hill, hypnotizing his actors for unique performances, debating whether to murder his friend Klaus Kinski, and eating his shoe, Herzog was able to find acceptance and success right from the beginning. His first feature, Signs of Life, was a hit, and within a decade, Herzog had directed masterpieces like Aguirre and Nosferatu.

Also known for his emphatic, occasionally quirky documentaries whose wide subject range reveals a deeply curious mind, Herzog’s first feature-length doc was released three years after Signs of Life and retains a perfect Tomatometer. In fact, it would not be until 2002 that Herzog would direct a Rotten film: Invincible, which is nonetheless close to the border of Fresh.

Since 2005, Herzog has experienced a resurgence in interest in his work, though he’s always been working at the same pace and with the same left field creative maneuvers. That was the year Grizzly Man came out, an unnerving riposte to the ‘nature is our friend’ documentaries that were in vogue at the time, like Winged Migration and March of the Penguins. Rescue Dawn and Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans garnered a lot of hype for the big stars attached, while My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done — co-produced with David Lynch and starring Michael Shannon — seemed like it was going to be a shattering collaboration of oddball intensity.

His latest films have been docs: Nomad: In the Footsteps of Bruce Chatwin, a tribute to the writer and Herzog’s friend, and Fireball: Visitors From Darker Worlds. Now, we’re ranking all Werner Herzog movies by Tomatometer!

#33
#33
Adjusted Score: 22426%
Critics Consensus: Queen of the Desert unites some undeniably talented professionals, but it's difficult to discern what drew them together -- or understand how its compelling real-life story became such a muddled mess.
Synopsis: Gertrude Bell's life as an explorer, cartographer, and archaeologist for the British Empire.... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#32

Salt and Fire (2016)
33%

#32
Adjusted Score: 34212%
Critics Consensus: Salt and Fire crowds together some impressive talent on both sides of the camera, precious little of which is put to compelling use.
Synopsis: A shady businessman abducts a scientist in Bolivia and leaves her stranded in the middle of gigantic salt flats with... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#31
Adjusted Score: 48946%
Critics Consensus: Enigmatic and digressive, this mystical potboiler possesses director Werner Herzog's penchant for offbeat atmosphere, but lacks the absurdist humor and profundity that makes his previous trips into madness compelling.
Synopsis: A man experiences mystifying events that cause him to kill his mother with a sword.... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#30

Invincible (2001)
55%

#30
Adjusted Score: 55013%
Critics Consensus: Sluggish and flawed, this is a minor work in Herzog's career.
Synopsis: "Invincible" tells the true story of Zishe Breibart, a Jewish blacksmith from eastern Poland who travels to Berlin in the... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#29
#29
Adjusted Score: 68711%
Critics Consensus: An intriguing blend of low budget and high concept, The Wild Blue Yonder brings Werner Herzog's distinctive sensibilities entertainingly to bear on the sci-fi milieu.
Synopsis: The film follows a hypothetical proposition: a group of astronauts are circling the earth in a spacecraft, but they cannot... [More]
Starring: Brad Dourif
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#28

Fitzcarraldo (1982)
79%

#28
Adjusted Score: 80770%
Critics Consensus: With a production as audacious as the feat it's depicting, Fitzcarraldo comes by its awe-inspiring spectacle honestly, even when it declines to examine the darker implications of its hero's dream.
Synopsis: Opera-loving European Brian Fitzgerald (Klaus Kinski) lives in a small Peruvian city. Better known as Fitzcarraldo, this foreigner is obsessed... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#27
Adjusted Score: 19563%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A surveying team led by Australian geologist Lance Hackett (Bruce Spence) is setting off subterranean explosions deep in the outback,... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#26
#26
Adjusted Score: 80253%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Filmmaker Werner Herzog narrates an exploration of his love-hate relationship with actor Klaus Kinski.... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#25

Cobra Verde (1987)
82%

#25
Adjusted Score: 82377%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Francisco Manoel da Silva (Klaus Kinski) plays an enterprising young Brazilian who, after impregnating the three daughters of his plantation-owning... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#24
Adjusted Score: 23872%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Werner Herzog examines the world of Fini Straubinger, a woman who uses her own conditions of blindness and deafness to... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#23

Woyzeck (1979)
85%

#23
Adjusted Score: 84278%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Having fathered an illegitimate child with his lover, Marie (Eva Mattes), feckless soldier Franz Woyzeck (Klaus Kinski) takes odd jobs... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#22
Adjusted Score: 90921%
Critics Consensus: Befitting its unorthodox origins, this Bad Lieutenant benefits from Werner Herzog's typically fearless direction and a delightfully unhinged Nicolas Cage in the title role.
Synopsis: Terence McDonagh (Nicolas Cage) isn't doing so well. He has a nasty painkiller addiction, courtesy of an injury he sustained... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#21
#21
Adjusted Score: 89160%
Critics Consensus: Meeting Gorbachev plays to filmmaker Werner Herzog's endlessly inquisitive strengths -- and reveals the fascinating story of a pivotal political figure.
Synopsis: Mikhail Gorbachev, former president of the Soviet Union, sits down with filmmaker Werner Herzog to discuss his many achievements. Topics... [More]

#20

Rescue Dawn (2006)
90%

#20
Adjusted Score: 94433%
Critics Consensus: Director Werner Herzog has once again made a compelling tale of man versus nature, and Christian Bale completely immerses himself in the role of fighter pilot (and prisoner of war) Dieter Dengler.
Synopsis: During the Vietnam War, Dieter Dengler (Christian Bale), a U.S. fighter pilot, is shot down over Laos and taken captive... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#19
Adjusted Score: 90958%
Critics Consensus: Another rewardingly idiosyncratic documentary from Werner Herzog, Nomad: In the Footsteps of Bruce Chatwin finds the master filmmaker paying warm tribute to a friend.
Synopsis: Werner Herzog turns the camera on himself and his decades-long friendship with the late travel writer Bruce Chatwin, a kindred... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#18

Signs of Life (1968)
91%

#18
Adjusted Score: 57692%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Three recovering German soldiers guard a munitions depot, until one goes mad and threatens to blow up the cache.... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#17

Heart of Glass (1976)
92%

#17
Adjusted Score: 92419%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In a rural community, a local artist known for making brilliant glass sculptures dies without passing on to anyone the... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#16

Into the Inferno (2016)
92%

#16
Adjusted Score: 93936%
Critics Consensus: Into the Inferno finds director Werner Herzog observing some of the most beautiful -- and terrifying -- wonders of the natural world with his signature blend of curiosity and insight.
Synopsis: Werner Herzog and volcanologist Clive Oppenheimer travel the globe and visit volcanoes in Indonesia, Ethiopia and even North Korea in... [More]

#15

Into the Abyss (2011)
92%

#15
Adjusted Score: 96673%
Critics Consensus: Another probing, insightful look at an interesting subject, Werner Herzog explores the American prison system with passion and not politics.
Synopsis: Filmmaker Werner Herzog explores capital punishment through interviews with convicted killers, their victims' families, and members of the Texas criminal... [More]
Starring: Werner Herzog
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#14

Grizzly Man (2005)
92%

#14
Adjusted Score: 97949%
Critics Consensus: Whatever opinion you come to have of the obsessive Treadwell, Herzog has once again found a fascinating subject.
Synopsis: Pieced together from Timothy Treadwell's actual video footage, Werner Herzog's remarkable documentary examines the calling that drove Treadwell to live... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#13
Adjusted Score: 50851%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Three decades after German-American pilot Dieter Dengler was shot down over Laos, he returns to the places where he was... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#12
Adjusted Score: 100695%
Critics Consensus: Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World finds Werner Herzog bringing his distinctive documentarian gifts to bear on a timely topic with typically thought-provoking results.
Synopsis: Filmmaker Werner Herzog examines the past, present and future of the Internet and how it affects human interaction and modern... [More]
Starring: Werner Herzog
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#11
#11
Adjusted Score: 81605%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: British engineer Graham Dorrington, who built a little helium-filled zeppelin to fly over the Guyanan rainforest.... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#10

Wheel of Time (2003)
94%

#10
Adjusted Score: 81619%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Werner Herzog documents a Buddhist ritual in India.... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#9
Adjusted Score: 97277%
Critics Consensus: Encounters at the End of the World offers a poignant study of the human psyche amid haunting landscapes.
Synopsis: Acclaimed filmmaker Werner Herzog travels to Antarctica, where he finds a desolate, beautiful landscape, largely untouched by human hands, and... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#8

Stroszek (1977)
95%

#8
Adjusted Score: 95151%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Bruno Stroszek (Bruno S.), a hapless busker in Berlin, falls for a prostitute (Eva Mattes) who's in trouble with local... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#7
Adjusted Score: 78730%
Critics Consensus: The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser marks a powerfully humane entry in writer-director Werner Herzog's acclaimed oeuvre, further bolstered by tremendous work by star Bruno S.
Synopsis: When Kaspar Hauser (Bruno S.), a young German man, is suddenly released from an existence of inexplicable confinement, he is... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#6

Nosferatu (1979)
95%

#6
Adjusted Score: 99895%
Critics Consensus: Stunning visuals from Werner Herzog and an intense portrayal of the famed bloodsucker from Klaus Kinski make this remake of Nosferatu a horror classic in its own right.
Synopsis: Jonathan Harker is sent away to Count Dracula's castle to sell him a house in Virna, where he lives. But... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#5
#5
Adjusted Score: 101234%
Critics Consensus: Hauntingly filmed and brimming with Herzog's infectious enthusiasm, Cave of Forgotten Dreams is a fascinating triumph.
Synopsis: In this documentary, filmmaker Werner Herzog and a small crew are given a rare chance to film inside France's Chauvet... [More]
Starring: Werner Herzog
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#4
Adjusted Score: 101056%
Critics Consensus: A haunting journey of natural wonder and tangible danger, Aguirre transcends epic genre trappings and becomes mythological by its own right.
Synopsis: Don Lope de Aguirre (Klaus Kinski), a ruthless Spanish conquistador, vies for power while part of an expedition in Peru... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#3
Adjusted Score: 99413%
Critics Consensus: Much like the cosmic debris it investigates, Fireball: Visitors from Darker Worlds is made up of heavy stuff -- but it lights up the screen thanks to Werner Herzog's infectious awe.
Synopsis: A journey across the planet and universe explores how meteorites, shooting stars and deep impacts have awoken wonder about other... [More]
Starring: Werner Herzog

#2
#2
Adjusted Score: 87365%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Retreating from Kuwait after the first Gulf War, the Iraqi army sets fire to the country's oil fields. In this... [More]
Starring:
Directed By: Werner Herzog

#1
#1
Adjusted Score: 40114%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Tormented patients stage a coup at a dismal asylum.... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog

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