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Werner Herzog

Werner Herzog

Birthday: 5 September 1942, Munich, Bavaria, Germany
Birth Name: Werner H. Stipetic
Height: 183 cm

Director. Writer. Producer. Has studied history, literature and theatre, but hasn't finished it. Founded his own production company in 1963. Has staged several operas, besides others in Bayreuth, ...Show More

Werner Herzog
The best advice I can offer to those heading into the world of film is not to wait for the system to Show more The best advice I can offer to those heading into the world of film is not to wait for the system to finance your projects and for others to decide your fate. If you can't afford to make a million-dollar film, raise $10,000 and produce it yourself. That's all you need to make a feature film these days. Beware of useless, bottom-rung secretarial jobs in film-production companies. Instead, so long as you are able-bodied, head out to where the real world is. Roll up your sleeves and work as a bouncer in a sex club or a warden in a lunatic asylum or a machine operator in a slaughterhouse. Drive a taxi for six months and you'll have enough money to make a film. Walk on foot, learn languages and a craft or trade that has nothing to do with cinema. Filmmaking - like great literature - must have experience of life at its foundation. Read Conrad or Hemingway and you can tell how much real life is in those books. A lot of what you see in my films isn't invention; it's very much life itself, my own life. If you have an image in your head, hold on to it because - as remote as it might seem - at some point you might be able to use it in a film. I have always sought to transform my own experiences and fantasies into cinema. Hide
When I write, I sit in front of the computer and pound the keys. I start at the beginning and write Show more When I write, I sit in front of the computer and pound the keys. I start at the beginning and write fast, leaving out anything that isn't necessary, aiming at all times for the hard core of the narrative. I can't write without that urgency. Something is wrong if it takes more than five days to finish a screenplay. A story created this way will always be full of life. Hide
On Klaus Kinski: "People think we had a love-hate relationship. Well, I did not love him, nor did I Show more On Klaus Kinski: "People think we had a love-hate relationship. Well, I did not love him, nor did I hate him. We had mutual respect for each other, even as we both planned each other's murder". Hide
There are certainly laws and elements that make a film more accessible to mainstream audiences. If y Show more There are certainly laws and elements that make a film more accessible to mainstream audiences. If you've got Tom Cruise as a strongman, I'm sure it would have larger audiences, but it wouldn't have the same substance. Hide
I'm not out to win prizes - that's for dogs and horses. I'm not out to win prizes - that's for dogs and horses.
[on threatening to shoot Klaus Kinski on Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes (1972)] Yes, I did that. I said to Show more [on threatening to shoot Klaus Kinski on Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes (1972)] Yes, I did that. I said to him that there was a line that neither he nor I could cross; we had a higher duty than ourselves. I told him it was impermissible for him to walk away. I explained to him calmly that he would not survive if he tried. I had a rifle - not in my hands - and I told him I would shoot him. He understood this was not a joke. He screamed for the police. The nearest police station was 40km away. And for $20 flat they would have testified to it being a hunting accident. Hide
I work best under pressure, knee-deep in the mud. It helps me concentrate. The truth is I have never Show more I work best under pressure, knee-deep in the mud. It helps me concentrate. The truth is I have never been guided by the kind of strict discipline I see in some people, those who get up at five in the morning and jog for an hour. My priorities are elsewhere. I will rearrange my entire day to have a solid meal with friends. Hide
Coincidences always happen if you keep your mind open, while storyboards remain the instruments of c Show more Coincidences always happen if you keep your mind open, while storyboards remain the instruments of cowards who do not trust in their own imagination and who are slaves of a matrix... If you get used to planning your shots based solely on aesthetics, you are never that far from kitsch. Hide
[on whether he'd like to direct a film like Jack Reacher (2012)] I've made bigger films than that, " Show more [on whether he'd like to direct a film like Jack Reacher (2012)] I've made bigger films than that, "One Shot" [former title] is just more expensive. Hide
Actually, for some time now I have given some thought to opening a film school. But if I did start o Show more Actually, for some time now I have given some thought to opening a film school. But if I did start one up you would only be allowed to fill out an application form after you have walked alone on foot, let's say from Madrid to Kiev, a distance of about five thousand kilometres. While walking, write. Write about your experiences and give me your notebooks. I would be able to tell who had really walked the distance and who had not. While you are walking you would learn much more about filmmaking and what it truly involves than you ever would sitting in a classroom. During your voyage you will learn more about what your future holds than in five years at film school. Your experiences would be the very opposite of academic knowledge, for academia is the death of cinema. It is the very opposite of passion. Hide
Of the filmmakers with whom I feel some kinship Griffith, Murnau, Pudovkin, Buñuel and Kurosawa com Show more Of the filmmakers with whom I feel some kinship Griffith, Murnau, Pudovkin, Buñuel and Kurosawa come to mind. Everything these men did has the touch of greatness. Hide
[on hypnosis] Herz aus Glas (1976), yes, I did that film with the entire cast under hypnosis. And so Show more [on hypnosis] Herz aus Glas (1976), yes, I did that film with the entire cast under hypnosis. And so I taught Tim Roth how to do it [in Invincible (2001)] and the funny thing was that the cinematographer was looking through the eyepiece and sitting that close and all of a sudden started to weave, and I grabbed him by the hair while the scene was still running and softly shook him. So yes, if the audience will be willing, it can be hypnotized from the screen. And that was what I actually had planned to do in "Heart of Glass"; I actually had the idea that I would appear on screen myself, and explain that I was the director and the scenes were shot under hypnosis. "And if you are willing to see the film under hypnosis, you should follow my advice now. I will ask you to look at something like a pencil, and don't remove your eyes, and listen to my voice and follow my words and follow my instructions." And of course I would tell the audience that at the end of the film they will return to the screen and softly wake up again. I have actually shown films to audiences who were hypnotized, including for example Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes (1972).[2005] Hide
Film is not analysis, it is the agitation of mind; cinema comes from the country fair and the circus Show more Film is not analysis, it is the agitation of mind; cinema comes from the country fair and the circus, not from art and academicism. Hide
[on the difference of his documentary work to 'Direct Cinema'] I'm not a fly on the wall. That would Show more [on the difference of his documentary work to 'Direct Cinema'] I'm not a fly on the wall. That would be utterly boring. I'm a filmmaker. I create films. I stylize them, I narrate them, I captivate an audience, I do everything a director should do. You see, what I do has to do a lot also with some sort of cautious humor. But also the joy of creating, the joy of taking an audience along with me, left and right.[2015] Hide
Film should be looked at straight on, it is not the art of scholars but of illiterates. Film should be looked at straight on, it is not the art of scholars but of illiterates.
So, you have to be daring to do things like this, because the world is not easily accepting of filmm Show more So, you have to be daring to do things like this, because the world is not easily accepting of filmmaking. There will always be some sort of an obstacle, and the worst of all obstacles is the spirit of bureaucracy. You have to find your way to battle bureaucracy. You have to outsmart it, to outgut it, to outnumber it, to outfilm them - that's what you have to do. Hide
[on working with Klaus Kinski] I had to domesticate the wild beast. [on working with Klaus Kinski] I had to domesticate the wild beast.
Your film is like your children. You might want a child with certain qualities, but you are never go Show more Your film is like your children. You might want a child with certain qualities, but you are never going to get the exact specification right. The film has a privilege to live its own life and develop its own character. To suppress this is dangerous. It is an approach that works the other way too: sometimes the footage has amazing qualities that you did not expect. Hide
To me, adventure is a concept that applies only to those men and women of earlier historical times, Show more To me, adventure is a concept that applies only to those men and women of earlier historical times, like the medieval knights who traveled into the unknown. The concept has degenerated constantly since then... I absolutely loathe adventurers, and I particularly hate this old pseudo-adventurism where the mountain climb becomes about confronting the extremes of humanity. Hide
I try to give meaning to my existence through my work. That's a simplified answer, but whether I'm h Show more I try to give meaning to my existence through my work. That's a simplified answer, but whether I'm happy or not really doesn't count for much. I have always enjoyed my work. Maybe "enjoy" isn't the right word; I love making films, and it means a lot to me that I can work in this profession. I am well aware of the many aspiring filmmakers out there with good ideas who never find a foothold. At the age of fourteen, once I realized filmmaking was an uninvited duty for me, I had no choice but to push on with my projects. Cinema has given me everything, but has also taken everything from me. Hide
[on Nastassja Kinski] To understand Nastassja, you must look at her parents. Her mother is a poet, h Show more [on Nastassja Kinski] To understand Nastassja, you must look at her parents. Her mother is a poet, her father was possessed. Hide
[on getting Klaus Kinski back to work] In Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes (1972), at the end, ten days befo Show more [on getting Klaus Kinski back to work] In Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes (1972), at the end, ten days before the end of shooting, Kinski, I believe as usual, didn't learn his lines. They were very short lines anyway, and he all of a sudden interrupts everything and throws everything around and he screams in a tantrum and destroys half the set and screams that the still photographer had smiled and had to be dismissed on the spot. Of course I wouldn't dismiss him because everyone else would have walked out in solidarity. I said "No, I'm not doing it, let's calm down and we'll continue." And he left the set. And I knew why he had done it because he had done it 35 times just within the last five years. And because of that, movies were canceled and destroyed. It was too well documented. He packed his things into a speedboat and screamed and screamed. And it was somehow not correctly reported in the press, but I have witnesses that I was unarmed, and did not point a gun at him, but I walked up and I said to him, "Klaus, I don't have to make up my mind. I've had months of deliberating where is the borderline that we will not transgress. This would be the transgression, the borderline. This is something that you will not survive." I said to him, "I do have a rifle," very calmly. He could try to take the boat and he might reach the next bend of the river but he would have eight bullets through his head. But of course there were nine bullets, and I said, "Guess who gets the last one?" And he looked at me and he understood it was not a joke anymore. I would have done it. He understood he better behave, and it was kind of hostile for the next couple of days. But what I'm trying to say is, the incident may sound funny now, and it seems funny and bizarre to me; if I sat out there I would laugh with you. But what I'm trying to say is that there's always been a very clear borderline, a line that must not be stepped over. So once you accept the duty you have to understand the duty that is upon you.[2005] Hide
I have the impression that the images that surround us today are worn out, they are abused and usele Show more I have the impression that the images that surround us today are worn out, they are abused and useless and exhausted. They are limping and dragging themselves behind the rest of our cultural evolution. When I look at the postcards in tourist shops and the images and advertisements that surround us in magazines, or I turn on the television, or if I walk into a travel agency and see those huge posters with that same tedious and rickety image of the Grand Canyon on them, I truly feel there is something dangerous emerging here. The biggest danger, in my opinion, is television because to a certain degree it ruins our vision and makes us very sad and lonesome. Our grandchildren will blame us for not having tossing hand-grenades into TV stations because of commercials. Television kills our imagination and what we end up with are worn out images because of the inability of too many people to seek out fresh ones. Hide
Someone like Jean-Luc Godard is for me intellectual counterfeit money when compared to a good Kung F Show more Someone like Jean-Luc Godard is for me intellectual counterfeit money when compared to a good Kung Fu film. Hide
I know whenever it comes to be really dysfunctional and vile and base and hostile on screen, I'm goo Show more I know whenever it comes to be really dysfunctional and vile and base and hostile on screen, I'm good at that! Hide
If I had to climb into hell and wrestle the devil himself for one of my films, I would do it. If I had to climb into hell and wrestle the devil himself for one of my films, I would do it.
If you truly love film, I think the healthiest thing to do is not read books on the subject. I prefe Show more If you truly love film, I think the healthiest thing to do is not read books on the subject. I prefer the glossy film magazines with their big colour photos and gossip columns, or the National Enquirer. Such vulgarity is healthy and safe. Hide
Perhaps I seek certain utopian things, space for human honour and respect, landscapes not yet offend Show more Perhaps I seek certain utopian things, space for human honour and respect, landscapes not yet offended, planets that do not exist yet, dreamed landscapes. Very few people seek these images today. Hide
[on his surname] It's Stipetic. It's Croatian. My mother's side of the family originated from Croati Show more [on his surname] It's Stipetic. It's Croatian. My mother's side of the family originated from Croatia. My parents divorced and technically my name is Stipetic. My younger brother is Stipetic. Herzog was my father's name [Dietrich Herzog]. As a filmmaker, I thought Herzog sounded so much better. It means Duke. Duke Ellington, Count Basie or King Vidor. Although I was never really close to my father, it sounded better.[2011] Hide
[his first interview question to death-row inmates] Your crime is abominable and monstrous, but I wi Show more [his first interview question to death-row inmates] Your crime is abominable and monstrous, but I will treat you as a human being. Hide
I don't spend sleepless nights over getting very bad reviews. I don't spend sleepless nights over getting very bad reviews.
TV uses landscapes. I transform landscapes - I direct landscapes. TV uses landscapes. I transform landscapes - I direct landscapes.
Day one is the point of no return. Day one is the point of no return.
[on Bruno S. in the film Jeder für sich und Gott gegen alle (1974)] I instantly knew he could b Show more [on Bruno S. in the film Jeder für sich und Gott gegen alle (1974)] I instantly knew he could be the leading character in "Kaspar Hauser". Hide
Never show anything to anyone in a documentary. They will become self-conscious and freak out. The w Show more Never show anything to anyone in a documentary. They will become self-conscious and freak out. The will think, 'Oh, the light on me was bad', or 'My hairdo wasn't good enough', and 'My God, I spoke too fast'. Never, never, ever, ever do that. Hide
I invite any sort of myths [about myself] because I like the stooges and doppelgangers and doubles o Show more I invite any sort of myths [about myself] because I like the stooges and doppelgangers and doubles out there. I feel protected behind all these things. Let them blossom! I do not plant them, I do not throw out the seeds. I advise you to read Herzog on Herzog because there you see a few clarifications. Hide
It is my firm belief, and I say this as a dictum, that all these tools now at our disposal, these th Show more It is my firm belief, and I say this as a dictum, that all these tools now at our disposal, these things part of of this explosive evolution of means of communication, mean we are now heading for an era of solitude. Along with this rapid growth of forms of communication at our disposal - be it fax, phone, email, Internet or whatever - human solitude will increase in direct proportion. Hide
Civilization is like a thin layer of ice upon a deep ocean of chaos and darkness. Civilization is like a thin layer of ice upon a deep ocean of chaos and darkness.
A natural component of filmmaking is the struggle to find money. It has been an uphill battle my ent Show more A natural component of filmmaking is the struggle to find money. It has been an uphill battle my entire working life... If you want to make a film, go make it. I can't tell you the number of times I have started shooting a film knowing I didn't have the money to finish it. I meet people everywhere who complain about money; it's the ingrained nature of too many filmmakers. But it should be clear to everyone that money has always had certain explicit qualities: it's stupid and cowardly, slow and unimaginative. The circumstances of funding never just appear; you have to create them yourself, then manipulate them for your own ends. This is the very nature and daily toil of filmmaking. If your project has real substance, ultimately the money will follow you like a common cur in the street with its tail between its legs. Hide
[if it was easier to make films in the past] No, it was probably harder because the tools of making Show more [if it was easier to make films in the past] No, it was probably harder because the tools of making films were expensive and inaccessible. I had to steal a camera, or rather as I call it, "appropriate" a camera. Today you can make a film with fairly high-quality digital equipment that is very inexpensive and do a feature film for under $10,000. In other words, young people who are in the culture of complaint, saying the financiers are so stupid and the studios do not listen to me, should just roll up their sleeves, earn some money and make a film.[2011] Hide
[on why his generation doesn't support capital punishment] We have seen the barbarism of a state-ord Show more [on why his generation doesn't support capital punishment] We have seen the barbarism of a state-ordered industrialized murder program. I'm not saying that's an argument. It's only an historical experience that we still sense within us. America has not had this experience. Hide
I despise formal restaurants. I find all of that formality to be very base and vile. I would much ra Show more I despise formal restaurants. I find all of that formality to be very base and vile. I would much rather eat potato chips on the sidewalk. Hide
I make films because I have not learned anything else. I make films because I have not learned anything else.
Everyone who makes films has to be an athlete to a certain degree because cinema does not come from Show more Everyone who makes films has to be an athlete to a certain degree because cinema does not come from abstract academic thinking; it comes from your knees and thighs. Hide
Every gray hair on my head I call Kinski. Every gray hair on my head I call Kinski.
Chance is the lifeblood of cinema. Chance is the lifeblood of cinema.
There is never an excuse not to finish a film. There is never an excuse not to finish a film.
[on his big break as a filmmaker] I wrote a screenplay, "Signs of Life" [later to become his feature Show more [on his big break as a filmmaker] I wrote a screenplay, "Signs of Life" [later to become his feature film debut Lebenszeichen (1968)], and submitted it to a competition of all German-speaking screenwriters and filmmakers. There was a cash prize with it and I submitted it under a pen name because I was already known for three short films. ... I won this award, which really carried me for quite a time. That was a very huge push.[2011] Hide
Through invention, through imagination, through fabrication, I become more truthful than the little Show more Through invention, through imagination, through fabrication, I become more truthful than the little bureaucrats. Hide
At my utopian film academy I would have students do athletic things with real physical contact, like Show more At my utopian film academy I would have students do athletic things with real physical contact, like boxing, something that would teach them to be unafraid. I would have a loft with a lot of space where in one corner there would be a boxing ring. Students would train every evening from eight to ten with a boxing instructor: sparring, somersaulting (backwards and forwards), juggling, magic card tricks. Whether or not you would be filmmaker by the end I do not know, but at least you would come out as an athlete. Hide
[on the ending of Stroszek (1977)] When I saw the dancing chicken, I knew I would create a grand met Show more [on the ending of Stroszek (1977)] When I saw the dancing chicken, I knew I would create a grand metaphor - for what, I don't know. Hide
I love nature but against my better judgment. I love nature but against my better judgment.
[During the making of Fitzcarraldo (1982)] I shouldn't make movies anymore. I should go to a lunatic Show more [During the making of Fitzcarraldo (1982)] I shouldn't make movies anymore. I should go to a lunatic asylum. Hide
There are billions of people who have cellphones. All of them can shoot a movie on it, if you want t Show more There are billions of people who have cellphones. All of them can shoot a movie on it, if you want to do that. The Internet is spread out into everywhere, so you have to find your own means, your new outlets, for distribution. Hide
There is nothing wrong with spending a night in jail if it means getting the shot you need. There is nothing wrong with spending a night in jail if it means getting the shot you need.
When you look on the Internet, there are at least two or three dozen fake Herzogs out there. Sometim Show more When you look on the Internet, there are at least two or three dozen fake Herzogs out there. Sometimes people answer back to my questions as if they were me. I could shut down these websites very quickly, but I don't want that. I consider them my unpaid bodyguards. Let them battle out there. Hide
Our children will hate us for not throwing hand grenades into every TV station because of commercial Show more Our children will hate us for not throwing hand grenades into every TV station because of commercials. Hide
[when asked about his favourite Muppet] I do not know Jim Henson and I do not know the Muppets. [when asked about his favourite Muppet] I do not know Jim Henson and I do not know the Muppets.
Create a list » User Lists Related lists from IMDb users My Favorite Directors a list of Show more Create a list » User Lists Related lists from IMDb users My Favorite Directors a list of 30 people created 05 Sep 2011   The Best Directors in my Opinion a list of 37 people created 25 Sep 2012   My favorite Directors a list of 47 people created 17 Mar 2015   Favorite Directors a list of 45 people created 20 May 2015   my favourite directors a list of 39 people created 21 Jan 2016   See all related lists » Hide
Every gray hair on my head is because of Kinski. - on Klaus Kinski Every gray hair on my head is because of Kinski. - on Klaus Kinski
[on the director of The Act of Killing (2012)] Joshua Oppenheimer is not the inventor of the casual Show more [on the director of The Act of Killing (2012)] Joshua Oppenheimer is not the inventor of the casual and unbelievable surrealism that seeps into this film from all corners. It does not come from him, it is not imposed by him. You watch this, and you know that in a way, it's real. And yet you cannot believe that reality can take forms as crazy and weird as that. [Without the staged re-creations] you would end up with a self-righteous, mediocre film you would see on television, a regular issues film, and I say that with venom. These are precisely the scenes that would be cut. Hide
[why he has never taken a vacation] It would never occur to me... I work steadily and methodically, Show more [why he has never taken a vacation] It would never occur to me... I work steadily and methodically, with great focus. There is never anything frantic about how I do my job; I'm no workaholic. A holiday is a necessity for someone whose work is an unchanged daily routine, but for me everything is constantly fresh and always new. I love what I do, and my life feels like one long vacation. Hide
You leave this jungle now and you'll find eight bullets in you and the ninth one will be for me - [t Show more You leave this jungle now and you'll find eight bullets in you and the ninth one will be for me - [to Klaus Kinski on the set of Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes (1972) (aka Aguirre: The Wrath of God)]. Hide
We can never know what truth really is. The best we can do is approximate... Truth can never be defi Show more We can never know what truth really is. The best we can do is approximate... Truth can never be definitively captured or described, though the quest to find answers is what gives meaning to our existence. Hide
Perseverance has kept me going over the years. Things rarely happen overnight. Filmmakers should be Show more Perseverance has kept me going over the years. Things rarely happen overnight. Filmmakers should be prepared for many years of hard work. The sheer toil can be healthy and exhilarating. Although for many years I lived hand to mouth - sometimes in semi-poverty - I have lived like a rich man ever since I started making films. Throughout my life I have been able to do what I truly love, which is more valuable than any cash you could throw at me. At a time when friends were establishing themselves by getting university degrees, going into business, building careers and buying houses, I was making films, investing everything back into my work. Money lost, film gained. Hide
It is not only my dreams, my belief is that all these dreams are your's as well. The only distinctio Show more It is not only my dreams, my belief is that all these dreams are your's as well. The only distinction between me and you is that I can articulate them. And that is what poetry or painting or literature or film making is all about... it's as simple as that. I make films because I have not learned anything else and I know I can do it to a certain degree. And it is my duty because this might be the inner chronicle of what we are. We have to articulate ourselves, otherwise we would be cows in the field. Hide
I'm not an interviewer. I have conversations. And I know the heart of men. I know it because I have Show more I'm not an interviewer. I have conversations. And I know the heart of men. I know it because I have had fundamental experiences like traveling on foot. The world reveals itself to those who travel on foot. You're unprotected and have to talk to people to ask them to fill your canister because there's no creek for dozens of miles. You really learn what men are all about. Hide
Werner Herzog Werner Herzog'S roles
Werner Herzog
Werner Herzog

The Zec
The Zec

Castorp
Castorp

CouchTuner