Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe

Some thirty-odd years ago, Werner Herzog told fellow filmmaker Errol Morris that if Morris got his documentary "Gates Of Heaven" made, Herzog would eat his shoe. Well, sure enough, Morris got his movie made, and Herzog was a man of his word.  A short film was made detailing this wager, which I highly recommend watching.

Highlights include Herzog...

* ...wanting to declare actual war on commercials. As in taking a crew of soldiers and invading, like, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.
* ...showing up in America looking like a cross between Gene Hackman and Borat.
* ...comparing filmmaking to cooking, then comparing it to walking on foot. What?
* ...realizing he's somehow gone a year without cooking a meal for himself. Geez, I subsist largely on a diet of peanut butter and rice, and even I cook more often than that.
* ...telling an insane story about throwing himself onto a flaming group of midgets, and then saying he would throw himself into a cactus if all the midgets survived. Then pointing out how he still has cactus pricks lodged in his knee "but they don't hurt."
* ...encouraging Berkeley students to steal film equipment and resources if need be, in order to make their own movies.
* ...and his whole "extremely pure film" critique of Gates Of Heaven, which is no doubt said with total conviction and indeed GOH is a legendary documentary. But Herzog even sounds funny when he's being completely sincere.
* ...explaining how he's eating the very shoe he wore when he made the wager with Morris, since he would've had lighter track shoes "but I'm not a coward."
* ...answering philosophical questions about film, art and humanity while he's in the midst of chowing down on his shoe.
* ...explaining how being a filmmaker inevitably turns out into a clown. Again, while he's in the midst of chowing down on his shoe.
* ...actually summing up this whole situation with grace and making a poignant statement about the art of filmmaking.

Werner Herzog is a riot.

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