Dir: WERNER HERZOG
Country: WEST GERMANY
The Unprecedented Defence of the Fortress Deutschkreuz is a short fourteen minute film written, directed, and produced by Bavaria’s finest filmmaker Werner Herzog. It was his third film, following on from his debut short Herakles (1962) and the mysterious and totally obscure Game in the Sand (1964). The latter is a film that Herzog has consistently refused to distribute, and will almost certainly remain hidden, owning to subject matter that still leaves the director disturbed. Fortress Deutschkreuz was Herzog’s first attempt at fiction, and as such it can be seen as something of a dress rehearsal for his first feature film Signs of Life which would follow in 1968. Both films explore the psychology of warfare, as the protagonists do battle with imaginary enemies. Signs of Life benefited tremendously from its beautiful Crete locations, brought vividly to monochrome life by the cinematography of Thomas Mauch, and the brilliantly unhinged performance of Peter Brogle as the brittle fantasist Stroszek. Fortress Deutschkreuz by contrast is still a little uneven and crude in places and the quality of the transfer I viewed does not aid its cause. However it does set up a satirical attitude to warfare that Herzog would develop and refine throughout his career.