Heart of Glass (film)

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Heart of Glass
Heart of Glass DVD.jpg
DVD cover for the film
Directed by Werner Herzog
Produced by Werner Herzog
Written by Werner Herzog
Herbert Achternbusch
Starring Josef Bierbichler
Stefan Güttler
Clemens Scheitz
Sonja Skiba
Music by Popol Vuh
Cinematography Jörg Schmidt-Reitwein
Edited by Beate Mainka-Jellinghaus
Distributed by Werner Herzog Filmproduktion
Release dates
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  • 17 December 1976 (1976-12-17)
Running time
94 minutes
Country West Germany
Language German

Heart of Glass (German: Herz aus Glas) is a 1976 German film directed and produced by Werner Herzog, set in 18th century Bavaria. The film was written by Herzog, based partly on a story by Herbert Achternbusch. The main character is "Hias," based on the legendary Bavarian prophet Mühlhiasl.


The setting is an 18th-century Bavarian town with a glassblowing factory that produces a brilliant red ruby glass. When the master glass blower dies, the secret to producing the ruby glass is lost. The local Baron and factory owner is obsessed with the ruby glass and believes it to have magical properties. With the loss of the secret, he soon descends into madness along with the rest of the townspeople. The main character is Hias, a seer from the hills, who predicts the destruction of the factory in a fire.


During shooting, almost all of the actors performed while under hypnosis. Every actor in every scene was hypnotized, with the exception of the character Hias and the professional glassblowers who appear in the film. The hypnotized actors give very strange performances, which Herzog intended to suggest the trance-like state of the townspeople in the story. Herzog provided the actors with most of their dialogue, memorised during hypnosis. However, many of the hypnotised actors' gestures and movements occurred spontaneously during filming.[1]

The majority of the film was shot in Bavaria, just a few miles from where Herzog was raised in the remote village of Sachrang (nestled in the Chiemgau Alps), and also at a nearby village in Switzerland. Other brief shots of landscape scenes were filmed in various locations around the world that Herzog scouted out, including Yellowstone National Park. The conclusion of the film was shot on the Skellig Islands.

Herzog, along with other members of the crew, has a cameo as one of the men carrying a load of ruby glass to the river.


  1. Werner Herzog, DVD commentary for Heart of Glass
  • "Heart of Glass" (Skellig Edition, 1976) by Alan Greenberg, including the screenplay by Herzog. English adaptation by Greenberg, with black and white photos also by him.

External links