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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride

[DOSSIER] Everybody's a critic: taking shots at Werner Herzog

Or, Werner Herzblog, as it seems on a range of sites this week, despite the postponement of MGM’s release of Rescue Dawn, Herzog’s fictional, Christian Bale-starring remake of his own doc, Little Dieter Wants to Fly. Last week, Indie linked to the Financial Times’ interview with the director, in which he recounts getting shot during an interview with English writer Mark Kermode; here’s the excerpt from Kermode’s doc with the incident in question. (The entry also links to Herzogbeard.jpgscreenwriter Alan Greenberg‘s screenplay for an upcoming project of Herzog’s, “The Cheese and The Worms” (Greenberg’s Robert Johnson biopic, “Love in Vain,” never made, was championed years ago by Herzog; the published version is worth the updig.) David Poland, at Hot Blog, reprints Herzog’s lightly likeable, 12-point “Minnesota Declaration”, from 1999: “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.” The “only authentic and official website of Werner Herzog” is here, and among its many resources is a vast library of stills from Herzog’s immense filmography (click the camera icon on the toolbar). More: a 12-page chapter from Herzog’s book, “Walking in Ice” [downloadable PDF] and Tim Bissell‘s fine, 15-page December 2006 Harper’s profile of Herzog, “The Secret Mainstream” [downloadable PDF]. And: a few key examples of Herzog’s history of on-set “suffering and anguish” [downloadable PDF]. Plus: Ernst Reijseger‘s long-player, “Requiem for a Dying Planet,” with intensely eclectic music drawn from Herzog’s The Wild Blue Yonder and The White Diamond with RealAudio streaming links of all the tracks. AND ALSO: Jamie Stuart wrassles with Herzog when Grizzly Man opened. Below: a clip from Les Blank‘s Burden of Dreams, in which Herzog expatiates on the “obscenity” of the jungle; Blank‘s 1980 Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe (20 minutes) about an ostensible bet with Errol Morris [see comment below]; Herzog’s 13-minute, 1968 short, Last Words (Letzte Worte) in its entirety; the trailer for Rescue Dawn; Henry Rollins‘ recent, earnest eight-minute interview with Herzog from his IFC show; Harmony Korine on his mentor and collaborator; and footage of Klaus Kinski on the set of Nosferatu.

On the obscenity of the jungle

Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe

Last Words

Rescue Dawn

“The Henry Rollins Show”

Harmony Korine

Klaus Kinski on the set of Nosferatu

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One Response to “[DOSSIER] Everybody's a critic: taking shots at Werner Herzog”

  1. Reid Rosefelt says:

    Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe isn’t an Errol Morris film, it’s a short directed by Les Blank. The premise was that Werner bet Errol that if he ever finished “Gates of Heaven” he would eat his shoe. Errol doesn’t remember him saying this, and in any case, Errol was once quoted as saying something like, “I didn’t realize myself as an artist in order to make Werner Herzog eat something distasteful.” [Edited above.]

Movie City Indie

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon