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Werner Herzog

...because the man that gave the world documentaries like "Grizzly Man," bizarre adventure-dramas like "Fitzcarraldo" and classic-remakes like "Nosferatu the Vampyre" abhors titles such as "documentarian" and "artist," instead likening himself to a craftsman unrepentantly falsifying events for the sake of fascinating the audience and eliciting a deeper truth – a quixotic quest reminiscent of the work ethics and absurdity of his own characters. For examples on caring deeply for humanity, watch Werner Herzog. For examples on complete disregard for the status quo, self-reflection and, at times, safety, meet Werner Herzog.

"A fact does not necessarily constitute truth. It comes through deeper visions, through something – a movie that doesn't explain things factually but illuminates you." - Werner Herzog.



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Werner Herzog discussing "On Death Row" and life as a Director

MEET

An Evening with Werner Herzog

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Werner Herzog's Masterclass

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More on Werner Herzog

Herzog looks at film-making in an entirely different way from most filmmakers, and it’s a perspective worth listening to. For his narrative films, he prefers to work more spontaneously, particularly when it comes to the cinematography. Herzog has stated that storyboarding kills creativity. In regards to his documentary films, Herzog doesn’t believe filmmakers should be “flies on the wall” but rather hornets, stinging and affecting change.

Good writers are great readers, and to Herzog reading is the foundation of good filmmaking. You cannot call yourself a filmmaker if you do not read. His Rogue Film School requires applicants to finish a reading list before applying and none of it is on screenwriting, lighting, cameras or directing. He believes that Roman antiquity, Hemingway, Virgil and even the Warren Commission Report are good primers to couple with "experiencing the world in a very fundamental way" to introduce oneself into the craft of filmmaking.

Dedication is a fundamental tenet of Herzog's work ethic. He will never push actors or crew members into risk without testing and demonstrating his own willingness to perform the same task. When Christian Bale dropped over 50 pounds for "Rescue Dawn," Herzog lost weight too. Like his quixotic characters, there's a strange honor to his seemingly absurd practices. When expressing doubt to a young filmmaker, Werner Herzog promised to eat his own shoe if the filmmaker ended up making a movie. Turns out the filmmaker was Errol Morris, and after his documentary "Gates of Heaven" was released, Werner Herzog made good on his promise and ate his own shoe – an event which also became a documentary.

"Read. Read read read read read. Read read. Read-read-read-read. Read. Read. Read. Read. Read read read read read." – Werner Herzog during an interview with IUCinema.

"Ultimately a film festival doesn't change much of the landscape. We have 4000 film festivals in the world. The problem is we have no more than three or four real good films per year. That's already a discrepancy. If you look at the film that won the Academy Award, 'Inside Job' about all these financial crisis...none of them have been indicted. They open your eyes, they change your vision, but in practical terms, movies do not really change the course of our lives." – Werner Herzog during an interview on Q on CBC.

"I don't make documentaries. They're all feature films in disguise...Our notion of the real world is changing dramatically...In filmmaking we have to be aware of this dramatic shift and we have to find new answers in the way we are making films. Truth is a much more deeper and more complex question...So it's always an approximation." - Werner Herzog on tvochannel.

Resources

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Interview

reddit AMA: Werner Herzog, Errol Morris and Joshua Oppenheimer

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Museum

Whitney Museum: Werner Herzog

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Archives

Deutsche Kinemathek – Museum für Film und Fernsehen

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Book

The Cinema of Werner Herzog – Aesthetic Ecstasy and Truth

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Book

Conquest of the Useless

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Book

Of Walking In Ice: Munich-Paris, 23 November-14 December 1974

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Book

A Guide for the Perplexed: Conversations with Paul Cronin

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webpage

Oxford Bibliographies: Werner Herzog

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webpage

A.V. Club: Werner Herzog

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webpage

Senses of Cinema: Werner Herzog

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Interview

NPR: Werner Herzog Talks About Madmen and Caves

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Video

Live from the NYPL: Werner Herzog

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