108 of 120 people found the following review helpful
This isn't really a review; I just thought that I'd provide some helpful information regarding each film that is missing in the Product Details:
EVEN DWARFS STARTED SMALL - 1970 - 96 minutes - Language: German - Starring: Helmut Döring, Paul Glauer - Genre: - Horror, comedy, drama - Plot: A group of dwarfs confined in a strange institution rebel against their guards in this absurdist film.
LAND OF SILENCE AND DARKNESS - 1971 - 85 minutes - Language: German - Starring: Fini Straubinger - Genre: Documentary - Plot: The documentary story of Fini Straubinger, a blind-deaf woman, and an analysis of human communication.
FATA MORGANA - 1972 - 79 minutes - Language: Germ an - Starring: Lotte Eisner - Genre: Existential - Plot: A series of images of mirages and more in the Sahara Desert, accompanied by narration and music.
AGUIRRE, THE WRATH OF GOD - 1972 - 93 minutes - Language: German, Spanish - Starring: Klaus Kinski, Del Negro - Genre: Drama, history - Plot: The brilliant story of Don Lope de Aguirre, a ruthless and mad conquistador in search of El Dorado.
THE ENIGMA OF KASPAR HAUSER - 1974 - 110 minutes - Language: German - Starring: Bruno S., Walter Landengast - Genre: Drama, Biography - Plot: The true story of Kasper Hauser, a man who lived the first 17 years of his life devoid of human contact, and is suddenly set free.
HEART OF GLASS - 1976 - 94 min - Language: German - Starring: Josef Bierbichler, Stefan Güttler - Genre: Drama - Plot: A master glass-blower dies without giving up the secret for producing the famous "ruby glass".
STROSZEK - 1977 - 115 minutes - Language: German, English - Starring: Bruno S., Eva Mattes - Genre: Drama - Plot: A recently incarcerated alcoholic, his elderly friend, and a prostitute are determined to leave Berlin and seek a better life in Wisconsin.
WOYZECK - 1979 - 82 minutes - Language: German - Starring Klaus Kinski, Eva Mattes - Genre: Drama - Plot: Franz Woyzeck, a hapless soldier, is beset on all sides by terrible forces he cannot control.
NOSFERATU THE VAMPYRE - 1979 - 107 minutes - Language: English, German - Starring: Klaus Kinski, Bruno Ganz - Genre: Horror - Plot: A remake of the classic film Nosferatu, which is a dark retelling of Dracula.
FITZCARRALDO - 1982 - 158 minutes - Language: German, Spanish - Starring: Klaus Kinski, Claudia Cardinale - Genre: Drama - Plot: Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald, aka Fitzcarraldo, is a man determined to build an opera house in the middle of the South American jungle.
BALLAD OF LITTLE SOLDIER - 1984 - 46 minutes - Language: German, Spanish - Starring: Werner Herzog - Genre: Documentary - Plot: A documentary about child soldiers serving in Nicaragua.
WHERE THE GREEN ANTS DREAM - 1984 - 100 minutes - Language: English - Starring: Bruce Spence, Wandjuk Marika - Genre: Drama - Plot: A geologist is asked to map a portion of desert covered in anthills in this film about the futile struggle of the Aboriginals.
COBRA VERDE - 1987 - 111 minutes - Language: German - Starring: Klaus Kinski, King Ampaw - Genre: Adventure, drama - Plot: The fearsome outlaw Cobra Verde is sent on a suicide mission to reopen slave trading with a dangerous African King.
LESSONS OF DARKNESS - 1992 - 50 minutes - Language: German, English - Starring: Werner Herzog - Genre: Documentary - Plot: A documentary about the disastrous burning of the Kuwaitian oil fields.
LITTLE DIETER NEEDS TO FLY - 1997 - 80 minutes - Language: English, German - Starring: Dieter Dengler, Werner Herzog - Genre: Documentary - Plot: A documentary about German-American naval pilot Dieter Dengler, who became a POW in the Vietnam War.
MY BEST FIEND - 1999 - 95 minutes - Language: German, English - Starring: Klaus Kinski, Werner Herzog - Genre: Documentary - Plot: A documentary about the complex and deep relationship between Klaus Kinski and Werner Herzog.
Now to crunch some numbers: This box set is priced at $149.99, and there are 16 films + bonus features contained in it. Dividing 149 by 16, we get the price of $9.37 per film, which is actually an excellent deal to own this eclectic and inspired collection of Herzog films. Cheers!
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on August 17, 2014
This set is a beauty! It is a really impressive collection more than worth having.
The Shout Factory set is like a book. It is smaller than it looks in the picture: 19x19x3.5 cm (or about 7 1/2 x 7 1/2 x 2 1/2 inches).
It looks very stylish and elegant. The book starts with a 20 pages illustrated essay about Herzog's films. Photos are in colour and monochrome. After the essay you have a summary about each one of the main films.
The set is made of strong material. Discs are placed in individual slots similar to the ones in Hithcock or James Bond collector's sets. Pages for the discs are made of hard cardboard and there is one disc per page. Pages with discs have colour illustrations and bits of information about the discs. The discs' labels have photos of the main film in the disc.
Menus are clear and easy to use. Subtitles are easier to read than on the BFI set.
The discs in the Shout Factory set are well protected and are likely to last longer than discs in most other sets, such as Herzog's BFI set, for example. It is also very easy to find what you are looking for in the Shout Factory set.
QUALITY OF IMAGES AND SOUND
Herzog's films on blu ray are, in general, better than on previously released dvds but there is not an abysm of difference . The images look good but don't expect something similar to the quality one sees in blu ray discs of Terrence Mallick's last films , for example. It is not a problem with the remastering or anything like that. It is just that the original films were not of very good technical quality to begin with.
But don't get me wrong. The images are good. Just don't expect something stunning.
Some controversy is going on about the differences between video quality of the Shout Factory and the BFI sets. The controversy started because of a review on dvd beaver where a reviewer criticised one disc from the Shout Factory set and praised one disc from the BFI set. The review was about one disc only, "Nosferatu", which was released back in may this year.
The reviewer is a person. He is not the voice of God or a panel of engineers. That specific reviewer has a state of the art home theater and a 60" plasma hd TV. He is some sort of expert in compression and will see more details and faults on videos than most people would ever notice or care about.
So, tell me: Do you have a Pioneer Plasma flat 60 inches HDTV which has the suggested price, on the company site, of $5,500 ? I don't...
The dvd beaver review compares several photos taken from the BFI "Nosferatu" and the Shout Factory "Nosferatu". Pay no attention to what I am saying here, pay no attention to reviewers who are saying that the BFI set is much better than the Shout Factory set, pay no attention to the dvd beaver review.
Check the photos yourself: (unfortunately, Amazon is not letting me paste the links. I will have to sort that out later.)
Photos from the Shout Factory blu ray disc "Nosferatu" are always the last ones and, just before them , you will see photos from the BFI disc "Nosferatu".
Photos on the internet are not an accurate way of comparing images from videos but they do give some sort of reliable reference. Look at the photo of the cat with the locket necklace or the photo of Nosferatu with his arms open , for example. Do you see an abysm of difference that justifies choosing one disc or another?
The dvd beaver reviewer admitted that it might be just a matter of personal preference, that is, some people will prefer the more grainy, film like texture of the BFI disc, as the reviewer sees those images, whilst some people will prefer the more filtered and boosted look of the Shout Factory disc.
There is a complete and very clinical review on bluray.com about the Shout Factory set. The reviewer, like the reviewer from dvd beaver, is a person. He is not the voice of God or a panel of engineers.
Actually, he is a professional musician.
He gives 3.0, 3.5 or 4.0 stars, out of a maximum of 5.0 stars to the video quality of most films from the Shout Factory set. Only one film gets less than three stars: "Fitzcarraldo", which gets 2.5 stars. But if you read the review about the video quality of "Fitzcarraldo" you will see that is not as bad as it looks as the reviewer is clearly looking for perfection.
There is no review about the whole BFI set on bluraycom yet. There are sparse reviews about some discs of the BFI set on dvd beaver. They are all very positive about the video quality of a few discs apart from the review on "Cobra Verde".
Only the discs "Nosferatu" from BFI and Shout Factory, released separately months before the sets, have reviews in both bluray.com and dvdbeaver at the time of this review.
So, there is no technical review on dvdbeaver, bluray.com, dvdtalk or in any other technical site identifying "the BFI transfers as brilliant and the Shout Factory! transfers as sub-par" as one five stars presciente, irresponsible review about the BFI falsely claims on Amazon UK.
The author of that misleading review on Amazon UK says that the world is a "terrible, terrible place". Indeed ! And the modern mix of short span of attention with idleness is one of the things that make the world such a terrible place.
The reviewer from bluray.com ends his thorough review about the Shout Factory set saying that "There's a rather wide gamut of video (and to a lesser extent, audio) quality here, and while there will probably be a fair amount of hand wringing that everything isn't perfect here, overall this is a very good to excellent set. Yes, there are stumbles here (some of them probably avoidable), but taken as a whole, Herzog: The Collection comes Highly recommended."
If you go to dvd talk you will read a review on the Shout Factory set written by a film editor who was nominated for an Emmy and worked, for example, in special effects on "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and "1941" before becoming an editor of television spots and film trailers. He headed the editorial department for MGM Home Video for six years. He is also a book author and has a couple of books on films at Amazon UK. This is the link to his review:
The dvd talk reviewer is the only reviewer writing about the Shout Factory set, as far as I know, that does work in the film and tv industry. He writes that "I watched about half of the films and sampled the rest, coming up with no bad discs and no transfers of inferior quality".
Let me repeat that: "No transfers of inferior quality"...Did the reviewer, Glenn Erickson, noticed the use of filters in the transfers? Of course he did. Did he think that they were relevant enough to mention? Of course not.
There is a second review on dvd talk about the Shout Factory set. It is a more complete and critical review but the overall rating for the video quality of the set is four out of five stars.
That reviewer ends his review saying that the Shout Factory set " is close to a perfect box set. Some of the transfers are problematic, and many of Herzog's documentaries from this period have been excluded. That's the bad news. Here's the good news: this is an overwhelming collection of 16 films, that range from good-to-classic (and nothing less), often complimented by entertaining and illuminating commentaries by the auteur himself. This is a giant, vital chunk of cinema history, all in one convenient collection. DVD Talk Collector Series ( what seems to be the highest recommendation in the site).
"Some of the transfers are problematic". I have no doubt about that. But I also know that most people, who are not experts on compression, will not notice things such as "some obvious high frequency noise reduction here that has an odd and somewhat differing effect on the film's grain structure" as the very competent and professional reviewer from bluray.com wrote about one of the discs.
So let me join a reviewer from dvd talk and say that the Shout Factory set is close to a perfect box set.
Shout Factory put much more work in their box set than BFI did. Moreover, when I look at both sets it is easy to see that Shout Factory also put passion and creativity in their work whislt the BFI set is nothing but one more set in their assembly line.
It dawn on me that if those reviews from bluray.com and dvdbeaver about Herzog's set are not read in the right perspective they can become quite misleading because those reviews are mainly about the transfers, not the original quality of images, and they are written by experts on compression who have state of the art home theaters that most customers don't have.
It was only recently that I first read reviews on bluray.com and dvd beaver and only because of Herzog's new blu ray sets. You see, I had a great time watching about four thousand films and tv series on discs without having ever read a review from those sites...
I couldn't possibly care less about those websites and am mentioning them because it is necessary, as some posters are wrongly using those sites as proof that the BFI set is better than the Shout Factory set. It is a fake proof based on a mediocre method of work.
As I said before, I more or less believed in the dvd beaver review praising the "Nosferatu" BFI blu ray disc and lashing out at the "Nosferatu" blu ray disc from Shout Factory. When I watched the discs myself I felt cheated. However, I don't doubt that differences in compression are there. It is just that, on my tv, they are irrelevant. They really don't matter.
I liked Jeffrey Kaufmann reviews on bluray.com, though. They are more technical, more complete and more professional than the reviews from dvd beaver. What I especially liked about the reviews on bluray.com is that they do give interesting information about the original films.
But it is clear to me that those reviews from bluray.com and dvdbeaver are reviews written by experts on compression and their public will be mainly geeks and film/tv professionals, considering the vocabulary used in those reviews. Moreover, sometimes they focus too much on technical aspects of the transfers and forget about the original quality of the films transferred to blu ray disc.
Most of Herzog's films included in the sets have poor technical quality of image and sound to begin with and there is no magic compression or magic blu ray disc that will make images that were never stunning to look stunning.
I elaborate: Look at the film "Aguirre, the Wrath of God" on blu ray disc. Both reviews from dvd beaver and bluray.com are very positive about the video quality of the disc's images. But "Aguirre" was filmed with a very simple 35 mm that was being used by film students in a school before Herzog stole it...
They used cheap lenses and cheap film stock. They filmed Aguirre under extremely adverse conditions and the budget for the film, including lab work, was low. On the top of that, the cinematographer wasn't very experienced.
The images of "Aguirre", no matter how good was the transfer, are far inferior to images on blu ray disc from "True Grit", "The Tree of Life" or, to use a 1955 film as example, "Violent Saturday" ...
Let me be very clear about one thing: I am not taking sides here. The images of both BFI and Shout Factory Herzog sets are never excellent or extraordinary. Blu ray will have stunning images only when the original source was already stunning. Blu ray can't make miracles. There are plenty of ugly washed out images in the Nosferatu blu ray disc from both BFI and Shout Factory sets, for example.
The reviews about the audio quality on "Aguirre" are even more revealing on what I wrote about finding the right perspective to read technical reviews. The reviewer from bluray com gives four out of five stars to the audio of "Aguirre" from the Shout Factory set. He wrote that " some audiophiles may opt for the 2.0 track, which offers excellent fidelity and a somewhat more focused soundfield. There's also an odd frequency shift between the 5.1 mix and the 2.0 mix, where if you toggle between them, you can actually hear the underscore fluctuate a few centimes between the two."
How many customers would notice those very technical details? And how many customers have the equipment to notice those details?
The reviewer from dvd beaver also wrote a very positive review about the audio of "Aguirre" and said that the audio "has a few notable separations and is very robust through a DTS-HD Master track at 3025 kbps... The 'theme', written by Florian Fricke is notable and sounds very clean throughout with a touch of depth in the sounds of the water currents."
Both reviews are quite misleading. People will expect a wonderful audio that is simply not there. I have a Loewe tv and they are known for their good audio quality.
I am sure that the transfers are very good, as those reviews suggest, but the sound in "Aguirre" from both sets is weird, to say the least.
It is very easy to notice that people's voices don't match with their surroundings. I've been near waterfalls like the ones in Aguirre. It is deafening.
They did a very bad job with the sound and I am not talking about BFI or Shout Factory. I am talking about Herzog's crew. Watch the waterfall scenes from "The Last of the Mohicans" or "The Mission", for example, and compare their audio with the audio from Aguirre in the Herzog blu ray sets. The audio of those two films is far better than the audio of "Aguirre".
The poor sound quality doesn't make the film any less impressive and magic than it is, because of Herzog's exquisite story. The story is what really matter.
But reviews on bluray.com and dvdbeaver praise the audio of Aguirre when the audio is actually poor. It is the misleading factor caused by the difference between the quality of the transfer and the quality of the original audio of the film.
Another example: Bluray.com has a very positive review about the audio quality of "Cobra Verde". The review says that " Both dialogue and the glut of ambient environmental effects are rendered with excellent fidelity and some surprising dynamic range."
I am sure it is true but, again, there is a big difference between the transfer and the film itself. The audio of "Cobra Verde" has a serious fault: Lack of sync. Many times an actor, probably speaking in Portuguese, is dubbed to German or English. It looks awful. You can see the lips moving when there is no voice and you can hear the voice when the lips are not moving...
The review on dvd beaver about the film "Cobra Verde" from the BFI set was written by a reviewer not mentioned here before. He is clearly unhappy with the video quality of the BFI disc but he hesitates in criticises it and wants to see the Shout Factory disc before writing a more conclusive review...
It is a very strange and questionable decision considering that other reviewer from dvd beaver praises to high heavens the quality of the BFI blu ray disc "Aguirre" and he didn't need to compare it with the Shout Factory disc...
Moreover, the reviewer from bluray.com wrote a very positive review about the video quality
of the Shout Factory "Cobra Verde". It is a very detailed review, much more complete that dvd beaver's reviews, and he didn't need to see the BFI disc in order to write that review...
Reviewers who wrote about the BFI discs seem to be writing in the UK because they have the BFI set but don't have the Shout Factory set, which was released several weeks before the BFI set.
I wonder if the negative review about "Cobra Verde" from BFI on dvdbeaver is not conclusive because the reviewer doesn't want to upset his pals at the BFI. I am sorry if I sound too cynical here but the whole thing is strange and it seems to me that reviews on dvd beaver about the BFI set are not as kosher as the implacable reviews on bluray.com about the Shout Factory set.
The video quality of "Woyzeck" is considered very good by a review on dvdbeaver. The reviewer, the same one who wrote the review about "Nosferatu" discs, compares the BFI blu ray disc with dvds and says that "Flesh tones become more natural, colors tighten, detail rises, depth is apparent, it ha a max'ed out bitrate... It also shows more information in the frame."
There is a big house near a lake in the beginning of "Woyzeck". The house's walls look greenish/brownish in both BFI and the Shout Factory discs. I thought it was odd so I checked the Anchor Bay UK dvd, which is not even the best dvd copy of the film. The walls are white washed on the dvd, what is certainly their original color, and the house looks much better on the dvd.
There is more: The grass looks synthetic in both BFI and Shout Factory blu ray discs. Its look is more natural on the dvd. There is just so much one can do with films of poor original quality. Maybe both BFI and Shout Factory tried too hard to make poor original photography to look better than it possibly could. I first watched the film many years ago, in the cinema. It was a real film projected onto a real film screen. I didn't notice that kind of thing at that time but, after having watched so many films one gets more critical, I suppose.
The photography in "Woyzeck" is of film school quality. There is a scene, for example, where Woyzeck is with the doctor and the captain. The light changes completely in a matter of seconds altough they are in the same place at the same time. It looks bad. The night scenes also look very bad, very amateurish.
So, I don't really care about "max'ed out bitrate"... What I see, in both bluray discs, is grass looking as if it was made of plastic. What I see is the white wall of a house looking greenish/brownish in both bluray discs.
Let's look at "Heart of Glass" now. The review about the video quality of Shout Factory disc on bluray.com is very positive. It says that "The bulk of this transfer looks very good, with a natural, if at times light, grain field, and nicely saturated colors."
So, the bluray.com review considers the transfer of that disc very good, not "subpar"...
There is a long sequence of images that last about five minutes right in the beginning of the film. Waterfalls and landscapes. They look awful on both BFI and Shout Factory blu ray discs.
The higher resolution of the blu ray highlights the poor quality of the original image without capturing the film texture that would certainly make those images have a more ""dream like" look.
The review's main focus is obviously the quality of the video transfer. He does mention and criticises the awful scenes in the beginning of the film. It is a time lapse but it is so badly done that it doesn't look like one.
I couldn't find a review about the BFI bluray "Heart of Glass" on dvd beaver. It looks like they don't have one yet but I bet they will write a very positive review...
The BFI disc is far too dark. You see talking heads without torso...The Shout Factory disc is a little better, a little less dark. But the best copy I saw from "Heart of Glass" is actually the German dvd from Arthaus. The look of the film on that dvd seems to be closer to the original look of the film.
Independent of whatever technical websites have to say and how correct they are, I do know that the quality of image is often poor in Heart of Glass because the original film didn't have a very good technical quality of image to begin with.
It seems to me that video quality is not the same as image quality...Or, better saying, a good video quality doesn't necessarily means a good original photographic quality.
PEOPLE CAN'T READ
It is ironic and sad that Herzog once criticised "misinformation propagated by the media" and now technical reviews about his set are being misinterpreted.
This is what Herzog said to a reporter last year: "But I have to add there are really funny things out there. For example, there is one letter going around which I supposedly wrote to my cleaning lady, and in which I insult her in the meanest possible way. When you read it, you'll see that the real author mentions his name right below the heading, but most people completely overlook that because, I suppose, people cannot read."
Herzog confirmed his accusation with a rather convincing argument:
"Most are illiterates, even though they know how to combine letters and make phrases and so on. I say: Consuming the internet, TV, and even cinema makes you lose the world. Only by reading can you gain the world."
ABOUT HERZOG AND SHOUT FACTORY
Many people probably don't know that Herzog himself has a hand in the production of the Shout Factory set so it is possible that Herzog himself had some kind of supervising role in the transfers and was happy with what he saw.
I wrote the last paragraph before reading an interview in the Los Angeles Times where Herzog says that "Finally you do have a selection of some of my finest work, available in very high quality. So I'm very proud."
I had both BFI and Shout Factory sets. I am very happy with the Shout Factory set and have recently returned the BFI set for three reasons:
1. There is no relevant difference in the quality of images between Shout Factory and BFI sets.
2. The BFI set has a faulty short film, "Herzog eats his shoe", where about three minutes of audio are missing. I don't accept sets that have a faulty disc.
3. The BFI box set is a wretched job of design: A flimsy box with discs poorly placed inside. It is a really lousy presentation.
Herzog seeks, as he says in this set, " certain utopian things, space for human honour and respect, landscapes not yet offended, planets that do not exist yet, dreamed landscapes".
The "dreamed landscapes" in Herzog movies is what really matters.
I loved Herzog films and watch many of them in the Goethe Institut in my country. It was always an experience of intense magic.
But I haven't watched Herzog's first films for many years. I will go now on a Herzog Marathon thanks to this wonderful set.