kottke.org posts about Werner Herzog

Running the lungs out of your bodyAug 08 2014

A wonderful interview with Werner Herzog on soccer, his wonderful fatherless upbringing, the nature of reality, and, of course, Mel Brooks.

I told Mel, "Mel, you know what, I have seen an extraordinary film. Something you must see. You must see. It's only at midnight screenings at the Nuart Theater. And it's a film by -- I don't know his name, I think it's Lynch. And he made a film Eraserhead and you must see the film." And Mel keeps grinning and grinning and lets me talk about the movie and he says, "Yes, his name is really David Lynch, do you like to meet him?" I said, "In principle, yes." He says, "Come with me," and two doors down the corridor is David Lynch in pre-production on The Elephant Man! Which Mel Brooks produced! And the bastard sits there and lets me talk and talk and talk and grins and chuckles. And I had no idea [and kept thinking], Why does he chuckle all the time when I talk about the film? But that was how I love Mel Brooks.

Werner the HerzogJul 25 2014

Werner The HerzogMagisterial. (via @moleitau)

From One Second To The NextAug 09 2013

Leave it to Werner Herzog to take the driver safety video to new heights. From One Second To The Next is a 35-minute documentary film by Herzog on the dangers of texting while driving.

Powerful stuff. Don't text while you're driving, okay? (via @brillhart)

New Werner Herzog film on the death penaltyNov 11 2011

It's called Into the Abyss and it opens today. Trailer is here:

There's an interview with Herzog about the film on the Tribeca Film Festival site and Ebert gave it four stars.

Werner Herzog reads Go the Fuck to SleepJun 15 2011

For completenessesses's sake, here's Werner Herzog reading Go the Fuck to Sleep. The video was shot at the book's launch at the New York Public Library last night.

See also Samuel L. Jackson's reading. All we need now are readings by Walken, Pacino, Oprah, Ian McShane, Joan Cusack, Alec Baldwin, David Ogden Stiers, David Attenborough, and Yeardley Smith as Lisa Simpson. Internet, make it happen!

More mistakes of the 20th centuryMay 04 2011

When I wrote about the Paris Review's interview with Werner Herzog, I took special note of this observation from the great director:

The Polar explorations were a huge mistake of the human race, an indication that the twentieth century was a mistake in its entirety. They are one of the indicators.

Apparently, "the twentieth century was a mistake" is something of a hobbyhorse for Herzog. Chris Krewson tipped me to a GQ interview where WH rattles off some of the other indicators:

I think psychology and self-reflection is one of the major catastrophes of the twentieth century. A major, major mistake. And it's only one of the mistakes of the twentieth century, which makes me think that the twentieth century in its entirety was a mistake.

Herzog backs this up with some intriguing counter-history:

The Spanish Inquisition had one goal, to eradicate all traces of Muslim faith on the soil of Spain, and hence you had to confess and proclaim the innermost deepest nature of your faith to the commission. And almost as a parallel event, explaining and scrutinizing the human soul, into all its niches and crooks and abysses and dark corners, is not doing good to humans.

We have to have our dark corners and the unexplained. We will become uninhabitable in a way an apartment will become uninhabitable if you illuminate every single dark corner and under the table and wherever--you cannot live in a house like this anymore. And you cannot live with a person anymore--let's say in a marriage or a deep friendship--if everything is illuminated, explained, and put out on the table. There is something profoundly wrong. It's a mistake. It's a fundamentally wrong approach toward human beings.

But lest you think that Herzog's rejection of the ethics of the Inquisition comes from an embrace of spiritual tolerance:

I think there should be holy war against yoga classes. It detours us from real thinking.

I said to my friend Gavin Craig the other day that with folks like Herzog, you almost have to approach them as if they're characters in a play. Instead of asking yourself whether you like them personally or agree with the things they say, take a step back and try to admire how they're drawn.

A drama of formationMay 02 2011

The Paris Review's John Jeremiah Sullivan interviews filmmaker Werner Herzog and archeologist Jan Simek about cave paintings in the south of France (subject of Herzog's new 3-D documentary) and middle Tennessee (Simek's area of expertise):

SULLIVAN
On the subject of the lighting in this film, Dr. Simek, you made an observation, which is that the light tends to be in motion ...

JAN SIMEK
The light never rests. Every time he changes the picture, it goes through a light sweep. The film is clearly concerned with how the moving light causes the images themselves to change. This is not inaccurate at all. The original impression that this artwork made was in some ways dictated by how it got lit by the people who made it, with torchlight.

HERZOG

What we did was very simple: we walked with the light, so that the source of light would make the shadows move slightly, like curtains of darkness rising. Or, for example, a fade-out would be done by just physically removing the light. So it was never a purely technical thing; it was always something human, as if somebody with torchlight were just leaving or coming in.

When you try to imagine how these images looked for Paleolithic people, in the flickering shadows, the animals must have been moving, must have had a strange life in them.

I was also struck by Herzog's reaction to Sullivan's observation that Cave of Forgotten Dreams largely departs from the heroic-discovery mode common to movies about cave explorers:

I'm suspicious of that notion of adventure. It belongs to earlier centuries, and somehow fizzled away with, let's say, the exploration of the North and South Poles, which was only a media ego trip, unhealthy and unwise, on the part of some individuals. The Polar explorations were a huge mistake of the human race, an indication that the twentieth century was a mistake in its entirety. They are one of the indicators.

While researching a story I wrote not too long ago about spaceflight and radio communications, I was surprised at how central the polar expeditions were to that story:

In 1929, Richard E. Byrd made history -- not for reaching the South Pole, but for bringing on his Antarctic expedition 24 radio transmitters, 31 receivers, five radio engineers, three airplanes and an aerial camera. Unlike Ernest Shackleton's trans-Antarctic expedition, who 15 years earlier spent 17 months fighting for their lives after being trapped in the polar ice, Byrd's team was able to stay in constant communication with each other and with the outside world. It was the beginning of modern technology-aided exploration, and arguably the model for human spaceflight.

Also, I think Werner Herzog may be the only living human being who is still allowed to say things like "the twentieth century was a mistake in its entirety" in semi-casual conversation. The rest of us lack the prerequisite voice, record of achievements, and enormous balls.

Cave of Forgotten Dreams at IFCApr 18 2011

Starting April 29, the IFC Center in NYC will start showing Werner Herzog's Cave of Forgotten Dreams in 3-D. A refresher on the film:

The visionary director of Grizzly Man leads us on an unforgettable journey 32,000 years back in time to explore the earliest known images made by human hands. Discovered in 1994, France's Chauvet caves contain the rarest of the world's historic treasures, restricted to only a handful of researchers. Granted once-in-a-lifetime access and filming in 3D, Herzog captures the beauty of a truly awe-inspiring place, while musing in his inimitable fashion about its original inhabitants, the birth of art and the curious people surrounding the caves today.

Herzog first heard of the Chauvet caves from this Judith Thurman piece in the New Yorker.

Cave of Forgotten DreamsNov 30 2010

Werner Herzog's new film is in 3-D; it's a documentary about the 30,000-year-old drawings recently discovered in the Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc cave in southern France.

Herzog gained extraordinary permission to film the caves using lights that emit no heat. But Herzog being Herzog, this is no simple act of documentation. He initially resisted shooting in 3D, then embraced the process, and now it's hard to imagine the film any other way. Just as Lascaux left Picasso in awe, the works at Chauvet are breathtaking in their artistry. The 3D format proves essential in communicating the contoured surfaces on which the charcoal figures are drawn. Beyond the walls, Herzog uses 3D to render the cave's stalagmites like a crystal cathedral and to capture stunning aerial shots of the nearby Pont-d'Arc natural bridge. His probing questions for the cave specialists also plunge deep; for instance: "What constitutes humanness?"

Herzog pursued the film after reading Judith Thurman's 2008 piece about the cave drawings in the New Yorker.

Morris and Herzog in conversationSep 16 2010

Errol Morris and Werner Herzog both had films premiere at the Toronto Film Festival. To mark the occasion, they sat down and had a conversation with each other.

That's just part one...Ebert has the rest of it on his blog.

Werner Herzog saves livesSep 15 2010

Some years ago, Joaquin Phoenix was in a car accident. Werner Herzog happened to be driving right behind him, stopped, and pulled him from the wreakage. Herzog tells the story:

Funny how you never see Superman and Werner Herzog together. I wonder... (via buzzfeed)

Werner Herzog as Plastic BagMar 23 2010

I didn't know it until just now, but I had been waiting all my life to watch a short film featuring Werner Herzog voicing a plastic shopping bag.

Struggling with its immortality, a discarded plastic bag ventures through the environmentally barren remains of America as it searches for its maker.

Fantastic. (via greg)

The auteur's Super BowlFeb 05 2010

What if the Super Bowl was directed by Wes Anderson or Quentin Tarantino? You'd get something like this. The Werner Herzog bit at the end is great.

Werner Herzog reads Curious GeorgeJan 25 2010

The accent isn't perfect (Herzog's distinctive voice is difficult to impersonate well) but there are some great lines in this.

Tags related to Werner Herzog:
video movies Cave of Forgotten Dreams books

this is kottke.org

   Front page
   About + contact
   Site archives

You can follow kottke.org on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Feedly, or RSS.

Ad from The Deck

We Work Remotely

 

Enginehosting

Hosting provided EngineHosting