MNS cinema journalist, Roula Robuste-Rongeur reporting from Berlin. 

It is well-known that Angela Merkel, Germany’s redoubtable Kanzlerin,  was overwhelmed with jealousy when she learned that the British had made a respected film about the life of Margaret Thatcher starring Meryl Streep: The Iron Lady (2011).  Not to be outdone by the English and without knowing the film concentrated on Madame Thatcher’s mental deterioration,  Frau Merkel summoned her chief advisor, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, and asked him to act as intermediary with the renowned German-Croatian director, Werner Herzog.  On June 7, 2012, Westerwelle met Herzog (who was visiting Germany after he moved permanently to Los Angeles) at the Deutscher-Kino Gasthaus und Brauerei in Berlin where the former broached the subject of a biopic about Frau Merkel.    

Werner Herzog expresses typical Teutonic jubilation at being tagged to direct the film “Frau Kartoffelnkopf von Der Oste“.  In Austria and the Czech Republic,  it will be released as: “Die Teufelhundin”   

It was reliably reported by eyewitnesses that Herzog leapt up and clapped his hands in delight after the gaunt German F.M. got to the point about making the movie.  Herzog blurted out: “But, that’s why I left Germany in the first place – to be away from that horrible woman!”  Westerwelle tried gamely to appear empathetic but questioned the wisdom of having Herzog direct a movie in which the subject matter was one of “cosmic ridicule”.  Westerwelle called Frau Merkel at her home and reported what Herzog had said.  She was adamant:  “I want a German New Cinema director!  That fag Fassbinder is dead.  Wenders is a fool.  No, it’s Herzog! Punkt!  Invite him over for dinner.  I’ll make him some Rouladen mit Spaatzle.  He’s Schwabisch, right?  You bring the wine, Guido!”

Herzog was no sooner trying to get on his plane to fly back to California than he found himself kicked off the “fly list” by “act of security” (Regierungsicherheitakte).  As Herzog was spirited away to Mrs. Merkel’s home in East Germany in a very posh Mercedes-Benz limousine,  he realized that his host was none other than Germany’s chief of intelligence, Gerhardt Schindler. 

Bearing a striking resemblance to Admiral Canaris of the Abwehr,  he responded to Herzog’s frightened exclamation of willingness to make the movie as follows: “Jetzt wir kochen mit Gas!” (Trans. “Now, we’re cooking with gas!”) 

At Frau Merkel’s family home in Templin, Mrs. Merkel prepared no dinner.  She was exhausted trying to unseat Syria’s president, Dr. Bashar Al-Assad and had no energy to prepare “stupid Bavarian dumplings”.   Herzog noted that Herr Schindler supervised the entire session with note-taking and nods of approval.  However, Herzog, being half-German,  insisted on having “total control” of all aspects of the production.   Frau Merkel agreed but wanted no comment in the film about any “mental deficiency” in order to contrast her leadership with that of Maggie Thatcher’s.  Herzog reluctantly assented.     

Production began immediately and purposefully.  Frau Merkel also wanted an American actress to play her but refused to consider Meryl Streep: “Oh, she’ll have a Dutch accent. No vay!”.   Herzog whose serious style of film-making almost resulted in his shooting to death Polish-German film star Klaus Kinski in the movie Aguirre: Der Zorngottes,  does have a sense of humor and thought Cloris Leachman (who played Frau Blucher in “Young Frankenstein”) would be perfect for the role of Mrs. Merkel.  When production rumors started spreading that Herzog wanted the sound of “jackasses braying” whenever the Chancellor’s name was mentioned in the script,  she had Herr Schindler put the kibosh on Ms. Leachman’s involvement.

MNS has learned that Herzog is negotiating with Kathy Bates for the role of the German leader.  “Kathy’s performance in “Misery” convinced me she would be perfect for the role of Merkel”, Herzog told Screen Gems Magazine.  The discussions now center on money.  For the role of Guido Westerwelle,  Herzog has secured international film star, Swedish heartthrob and chronically miscast silver screen eminence grise, Max Von Sydow.  Max is best remembered for his role in George Stevens’ “The Greatest Story Ever Told” in which he played a 6’9″ tall, blonde, blue-eyed South-Syrian Jew named Jesus of Nazareth.  Playing the role of Madame Merkel’s childhood hero, Markus Wolf, of the notorious Stasi East German security agency, is venerable Hollywood stalwart, Morgan Freeman.  “I think having a black person play a communist German Jew says a lot about race relations,” commented Mr. Herzog in an interview on the Tonight Show.       

Frau Merkel, after seeing some of the out-takes from the biopic directed by Werner Herzog.