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  • Images of Bruce Chatwin and Werner Herzog, side by side.


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Werner Herzog on Bruce Chatwin (1940-1989): “He was a writer like no other. We were kindred spirits.” Two brilliant polymaths come together in Herzog’s fascinating appreciation of Chatwin, a man whose obsessions included walking, the ascetic lives of nomads (and its inverse: the OCD of collectors), pre-history, mythology, Aboriginal culture, art history, and archeology. Described as “alarmingly handsome,” Chatwin began work at Sotheby’s (he called it “smother boys”) dusting objects – and at age 26 became its youngest director. Then he quit – to study, travel, and write. His fictionalized biography of a 19th century Brazilian slave trader became the basis for Herzog’s COBRA VERDE. With a writing style (The Songlines, In Patagonia, On the Black Hill) described by John Updike as “clipped, lapidary prose that compresses worlds into pages,” Chatwin brought travel writing to imaginative new heights. And, like Herzog, he was known for embellishing facts to make them truer. NOMAD is Herzog’s moving portrait of the man and the artist who didn’t tell “half-truths,” but “truth and a half.”

Presented with support from Film Forum’s Documentary Fund.
Leadership gifts received from: Hugo Barreca, Leon and Michaela Constantiner, Ostrovsky Family Fund.

Presented with support from the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation Fund.



“Critic’s Pick. Outstanding… (Herzog and Chatwin) generously delighted in presenting to their audiences earthly wonders that most of us never dreamed of… Herzog shoots these sites with the will and skill of a spell caster… More than peripatetic cinematic comfort food.”
– Glenn Kenny, The New York Times

“The thing that I loved the most about this film is learning about Herzog and Chatwin’s personal camaraderie. We see a softer, much less utilitarian side of the German film director. The cinematography is beautiful. As in most of Herzog’s films, the music is incredible. The film is intimate… However, in some ways it’s larger than life, just as both the director and its subject.”
– Lorry Kikta, Film Threat

“An encomium to a lost friend, but Herzog who based his 1987 film COBRA VERDE on Chatwin’s The Viceroy of Ouidah, imbues the film with rich narration, unforgettable characters and National Geographic-worthy landscape shots all his own.”
– Jason Newman, Rolling Stone

“Herzog evokes the late English wanderer’s restless soul and curious fascination with profound issues that have long captivated the director. Herzog ably conjures the man’s attraction to the intersection of nature, history, dreams, and myth. NOMAD marries its maker’s commentary to tableaux - of icy Patagonian lakes and tree-lined Australian paths - that convey a sense of profound beauty and primordial mystery. Herzog brings (Chatwin) to vivid life.”
– Nick Schager, Variety

“A touching, fragmented remembrance of the writer, going to some of the places he treasured and speaking with those who knew him. Both men believed not just in travel but in ‘the sacramental aspect of walking.’  In its restless, curious way, (the film) tells us things about its subject that a more conventional film would have a hard time putting into words.”
– John DeFore, The Hollywood Reporter