Everyone loves Werner Herzog — except, apparently, German film critics. This and many other priceless nuggets were divulged in an interview released today by The Hollywood Reporter in which the German director, producer, and actor discussed everything from his 35-minute documentary regarding the dangers of texting while driving to a a video he made for a Kickstarter account created to raise funds for fennel salt. Conducted at the Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland where the iconic documentarian is being honored, the always candid artist unleashed plenty of captivating thoughts throughout the conversation. Here are his five most compelling comments.
1) “He told me he wanted to shorten it or even cut it completely, but I said to him: ‘Your life is worth nothing if you cut out that ending.’ So he left it in.”
Herzog was credited as an executive producer — a title he said he only accepted to help the film gain distribution — on Joshua Oppenheimer’s 2013 documentary, “The Act of Killing.” When asked about it in the interview, Herzog said he was there simply to “encourage” the young director. Herzog earned his EP credit when Oppenheimer proposed cutting the film’s final moments. A man not adverse to threats, Herzog made sure his opinion was heard on the issue.
2) “People cannot read.”
Though this one is taken slightly out of context, Herzog actually defends the broad statement in a follow-up question from THR. Herzog was initially asked about social media imitators on Twitter and Facebook claiming to represent him. The internet-averse filmmaker then launched into the following story of misinformation propagated by the media:
“But I have to add there are really funny things out there. For example, there is one letter going around which I supposedly wrote to my cleaning lady, and in which I insult her in the meanest possible way. When you read it, you’ll see that the real author mentions his name right below the heading, but most people completely overlook that because, I suppose, people cannot read.”
The reporter then followed up regarding the last comment, and Herzog confirmed his accusation with a rather convincing argument.
“Most are illiterates, even though they know how to combine letters and make phrases and so on. I say: Consuming the internet, TV, and even cinema makes you lose the world. Only by reading can you gain the world.”
3) “My wife and I always wanted to live in the part of the U.S. with the most substance, and that is, of course, Los Angeles.”
Herzog was asked what was different about the United States in regard to why he’s been embraced here and somewhat rejected in his German homeland. He started by stating he’s here because he was married here (to Lena Herzog, a Russian native who moved to America in 1990). Then he mentions the above statement, reasoning that Los Angeles has “creative density” and “immense depth.” Before New Yorkers organize a boycott of all things Herzogian, the Californian also stated he “could live without a lot of nonsense there as well: hippies, New Age idealism, aerobic studios, Yoga-insanity, and the like.”
4) “He produced a video for the Kickstarter campaign, and it was so incredibly bad that I had to take things into my own hands, for his sake.”
Much was made about the video Werner Herzog made for a Kickstarter campaign sponsoring organic fennel salt. Enough so the project has made more than $48,000 of its $30,000 goal with 23 days still to go. The “he” referred to is a “very good friend” of Herzog’s who the filmmaker says “is one of the most talented chefs in the U.S., maybe the world, but he has no clue how to make a film.” So the director helped him out. Herzog didn’t have much more to say on the matter, but he did confirm he wouldn’t be launching a Kickstarter of his own any time soon.
5) “I didn’t eat the sole which was made of rubber, only the leather parts. Our digestive system can deal with that. Theoretically, you could also eat your belt. The problem was I cooked the shoes for too long, and the leather became hard. Luckily, I had a lot of beer with me there, and I managed to swallow it with that. I really can’t tell you what it tasted like, because I was already too drunk by the time I ate it.”
Werner explaining why he doesn’t know what shoes taste like. The end.