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Herzog on Herzog

4.48 of 5 stars 4.48  ·  rating details  ·  898 ratings  ·  87 reviews
An invaluable set of career-length interviews with the German genius hailed by François Truffaut as “the most important film director alive”

Most of what we’ve heard about Werner Herzog is untrue. The sheer number of false rumors and downright lies disseminated about the man and his films is truly astonishing. Yet Herzog’s body of work is one of the most important in postwa
Paperback, 352 pages
Published July 9th 2003 by Faber & Faber (first published July 2003)
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There are just too many fantastic stories here, from the time Herzog intentionally jumped onto a bed of cacti in order to appease a bunch of dwarves, to the time he was life-flighted out of a country in a cage being hoisted by a helicopter ("I was frozen to the cage, so the film crew had to urinate on my hand!") But maybe my favorite was the exchange about Herzog eating his shoe, which went something like this:

Herzog: There should be more shoe-eating in this country! Do you remember that man who
if you asked me as a child what i wanted to be when i grew up, i would say herzog. you might want to avoid me when i have this in my hands because i'll start reading you my favorite passages, you'll have a beard a mile long by the time i'm finished. even if you're a woman.
Herzog is, simply, incomparable. Who else thinks or speaks like this man? His rare combination of humility, disarming thoughtfulness and blunt honesty provide an antidote to the typical glibness of those involved in the movie business. Of course, Herzog would probably dislike someone associating him with the movie business; he'd argue that he was in the business of dreams. And he would be right. He is a craftsman of dreams. (He would undoubtedly reject being called an artist of dreams, although ...more
Mar 01, 2010 Mike rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: dwarfs, visionaries, Herzog buffs
Herzog on Herzog was created from a series of interviews with Werner Herzog. The interviewer, Paul Cronin, then edited the results of these sessions by combining answers relating to the same question or topic and excising the material that did not relate to the director's creative output. The resulting "interview" reads like a long conversation that runs mostly chronological from Herakles to Invincible. It ends with Herzog admonishing the interviewer, "Don't you ever listen to the Song of Life." ...more
C’è una caverna enorme in cui vanno a riposare milioni di rondoni. L’accesso a questa caverna è sbarrato dalle cascate di Kaieteur (Guyana britannica; quattro volte più alte delle cascate del Niagara, per dire), quindi solo i rondoni in volo possono entrarvi facilmente, aggirando in volo l’enorme massa d’acqua. Il medico della troupe di Werner Herzog, esperto scalatore, decide di farsi calare con una telecamera per filmare l’interno della caverna, così da rivelarci cosa si cela dietro il muro d’ ...more
This book is an extended interview between Cronin and Herzog and covers his early life and his filmography up until Invincible (2001). Simply put, if you a fan of Herzog’s films this is a must read. Like his films, Herzog is funny, insightful and unique. A lot of this ground is now covered in Herzog’s DVD commentaries, and if you have listened to any of these you’ll be quite familiar with his “ecstatic truth”, his “fever dreams” and his handling of Klaus Kinski. The real treat is the discussion ...more
Great book, which contains interviews with one of the most interesting directors of all time. I found that in Herzog's life there was an episode which is very similar to the story that is told in Rachel Joyce's "The Unlikely pilgrimage of Harold Fry". Fantastic how things like that could actually happen! Recommend this book for Herzog's fans and those who are interested in New German Cinema.
Brian Hacker
Werner Herzog is an artistic genius, indefatigable film-maker, champion of the underdog and all-around badass. This book is a great companion to his work, as well as an entertaining read due to it's anecdotal, conversational style. I honestly believe he's among the most important
artists of his time and a big inspiration to me.
Everyone should look up the story of his being shot
during an interview with the BBC outside his house,
then finishing the interview before going to the's ridic
Aug 26, 2008 Alison rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who like movies
this book is completely brilliant. herzog is a true poet. all of his ideas about athleticism and space in filmmaking feel really fresh to me. i can't imagine anyone not enjoying his stories of walking from munich to paris to save lotte eisner's life, or of being buried in a snow cave for two days without food, or of eating a piece of chocolate to stop one of klaus kinski's tantrums... even if you don't know or like his films. herzog can come off as hyperbolic and grandiose, but i never found mys ...more
Derek Davis
Good lord, what an amazing man. Werner Herzog has not only made some of the most stunning and wrenching movies of the last 50 years, he's also been everywhere, done everything and been involved in every roiling controversy imaginable.

The book is a set of chronologically arranged interviews covering Herzog's youth, followed by commentary on just about every film he produced through 2001.

At age 14, he walked from native Munich to the Adriatic coast simply because he felt like it. He came to Ameri
Vincent Saint-Simon
To a Reader Whom this May Concern:

I was once told that this book reads like scripture. "Like" is too weak a word.


A pair with Clint Eastwood

How do I hate thee, bio-pic, let me count the ways.


Aside from the fact that it is a way of making up for not having a story – I wish somebody would come up with the idea of paying a tiny fraction of a percent of the budget of movies to writers. WRITERS. Come on, let’s hear it for writers…

Aside from that….

The historian in me continually wants to vomit every time I am dragged to one.

Eastwood’s falsification of history in Hoove
An absolute must read for anyone remotely interested in Herzog and his films. Yes, this is the guy who ate his own shoe on a promise to a fellow filmmaker, the guy who threw himself into a bed of cacti making good on a promise to his little person actors in Even Dwarfs Started Small, yes this is the man who threatened to shoot Klaus Kinski when he told Herzog that he was leaving the filming of Aguirre: The Wrath of God, and the man who, in making the film Fitzcarraldo, pulled a 320 ton steamship ...more
Dec 27, 2007 Spiros rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Those in quest of ecstatic truth, new images, and the grandiose
Who could imagine that a book of interviews could be so exhilarating? And while I am sure that there was some editing, having spent the best three movie-going hours of my life at his appearance a couple of years ago at the San Francisco International Film Festival, I have no difficulty in crediting that a simple question could generate a pages long, perfectly coherent, well reasoned and frankly hilarious response; simply put, this is the way the man's mind works. Cynics, of the type Herzog woul ...more
Nuzhat Saadia
Werner Herzog is a delightful fiend. His insights on filmmaking, philosophy, the human condition, society, the politics of cinema and ultimately the futility of film as an art form to be burdened with the promise of change are all a treat to read. This book, done in a simple Q & A format, brings Herzog's life into focus, juxtaposing it with his passion for film, cinema, his nonchalance for belonging to any odd cinematic movement and consistently avoiding being labeled one way or the other. H ...more
Mar 03, 2012 Lauren added it
Shelves: favorites
An elegant and poetic series of interviews with our greatest living director. He absolves himself of the many mistruths brought against him over time (not that I fell prey to them anyway). My favorite part is when he's asked to describe what a Werner Herzog film school would be like. Herzog's response (I'm paraphrasing) is that any students of his imaginary "film school" would have to first walk 5,000km just to get there. Then, spend weeks mastering other physical skills. He admits that he doesn ...more
Chris Theo
The more of his films you've seen the more you'll get out of this book. But don't let this put you off. You may not agree with his views all the time but he truly is a unique filmmaker worthy of the praise and adulation he receives. At the same time you can understand why so many just don't get him. He is often overly poetic and when reading this book you often wonder if his stories don't borrow from his filmmaking ideology. Often the stories are so unbelievable that you feel that he must be cre ...more
Aug 12, 2009 Topher rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: art
I have enthusiastically watched Mr Herzog's more recent film works --even catching "Encounters at the End of the World" at its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival-- but have struggled to make sense of his earlier, more challenging works. After reading these extended interviews, I'm happy to learn that the problem is not me: despite his claims to being "clinically sane," he is clearly a madman.

A brilliant madman, of course. I will now revisit those earlier films, with the knowledg
Learned very little that he hadn't already spoke about at length in his commentaries, but my wife loved hearing the stories and she watched a few of his movies (My Best Fiend, Aguirre, Nosferatu) and I watched most of the rest of the ones I hadn't seen.
Jared Zehm
One of my favorite books ever ~ anyone who knows about Herzog knows that he and his films are more than what they appear ~ he rarely gives interviews so this book, a series of interviews edited together, delves into a plethora of interesting stories about the man himself and his films. Herzog always seems to speak in platitudes about his methods and motivations. This shows through in the book because he is very much a man of action and life. His films come about because of his experiences and hi ...more
Chris S
I discovered Herzog only recently after watching 'Encounters at the End of the World' at my local cinema earlier in the year. It was the most amazing and uplifting film I'd seen in a very long time. It had a profound affect on me. Straight after I gorged myself on his films, and after listening to the DVD commentries, and if you want to know more - then Herzog on Herzog is a pretty essential companion to the films if you are a fan, or if you are starting out as a filmmaker. His advice may be use ...more
Andrew Falk
A fascinating 300-page career-spanning interview with one of the world's most distinctive and brilliant film directors.
Ryan Davis
Awesome! This book is a great source of inspiration to me when it comes to my creative endeavors, providing energy to simply stubbornly move forward with projects and to have courage to articulate beautiful images and visions. It's also hilarious: Herzog has this ridiculous straight forward way of talking about things, and he's completely serious even if the subject or account is by normal standards insane or bizarre. His work takes on an epic scale simply because he achieves exactly what he wan ...more
Werner Herzog has one of the most unique and refreshing approaches to life than almost any other public figure i can think of. The fact that he is a great success in his chosen fields affirms that originality and quality are still valued, something i occasionally forget when confronted by the typical choice of films in my local cinema.
If you are interested in Herzogs films and methods then i would recommend that you buy this book. It is filled with stories and insights from one of the greatest a
When Werner Herzog was 6, he became very ill, and his mother had to drag him on a sled across snow-packed Bavaria to get him medical treatment. He laid in a hospital bed for eight days -- yet he never complained or grew bored. This is because he pulled a piece of string from his hospital blanket and played with it for the entire time. "I guess I saw a world of imagination in that piece of string," says Herzog.

There is a lot of stuff like that in this book. Recommended, especially for string fana
Sep 19, 2007 Jon rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those who seek ecstatic truth
There is alot of overlap from what Herzog has said on the DVD commentaries of his films but this book goes into much more detail. This is a wonderful series. There is nothing better than direct quotes from the horses mouth. It's a thousand times more engaging and enlightening than any damned overblown essay on his work could be. Half of my enjoyment of his films comes from the real life stories behind the productions and they're all here in one place now.
Allen Riley
"I fear chickens most because they are so stupid." - Werner Herzog

I haven't seen many of the films discussed in this book, but the films are secondary to the philosophy. In these interviews, Herzog's films come across as diverse obstacle courses for the human spirit that transcend their particular content. He advises filmmakers to aspire to self-reliance and athletic perseverance and to overcome the fear of failure.
Steev Hise
Oct 13, 2008 Steev Hise rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: filmmakers
Shelves: filmmaking, own-it
Herzog's work is so great and his ideas about his work and life are pretty astute and entertaining.

This is a really great book for anyone who is a fan, or any filmmaker.

Herzog is a real curmudgeon, and so a lot of what he says has to be taken with a grain of salt. but there's so much wisdom in much of what he says. i learned a lot from this book, and am even more inspired by his body of work now than ever.
I wasn't sure what to expect from Herzog on Herzog, but I really liked the Q&A format. A book written about Herzog would not have been nearly as interesting as Herzog speaking for himself! What a strange, opinionated, fascinating guy. His life is full of crazy, unusual stories, and I loved hearing them in his voice. After hearing the background on all his films, I also definitely want to watch a few of them.
Oct 13, 2008 Malbadeen marked it as to-read
loved "my best friend"
thought "Grizzly man" was interesting but the outtakes with Werner Herzog were equally if not more interesting.
saw, "Even Dwarfs start small" and thought this shit is messed up.
Maybe I wont be a life long fan of all of his films but I find HIM to be incredibly interesting! and I've heard from a friend that this book is "the bomb" which I thought was both a conscious and compelling review.
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“There are deeper strata of truth in cinema, and there is such a thing as poetic, ecstatic truth. It is mysterious and elusive, and can be reached only through fabrication and imagination and stylization.” 10 likes
“The opinion of the public is sacred. The director is a cook who merely offers different dishes to them and has no right to insist they react in a particular way. A film is just a projection of light, completed only when it crosses the gaze of the audience[...]” 6 likes
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