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Werner Herzog Doesn’t Fear Death

Posted on Apr 14, 2012
Curtis E. Oso (CC-BY)

The German filmmaker has spent a career chronicling the struggles of odd heroes, real and imagined. Now approaching his 70th year, Werner Herzog confirms he doesn’t fear the inevitable final cut—neither for himself nor the human race. —ARK

The Guardian:

Some years ago, Werner Herzog was on an internal flight somewhere in Colorado and the plane’s landing gear wouldn’t come down. They would have to make an emergency landing. The runway was covered in foam and flanked by scores of fire engines. “We were ordered to crouch down with our faces on our knees and hold our legs,” says Herzog, “and I refused to do it.” The stewardess was very upset, the co-pilot came out from the cabin and ordered him to do as he was told. “I said, ‘If we perish I want to see what’s coming at me, and if we survive, I want to see it as well. I’m not posing a danger to anyone by not being in this shitty, undignified position.’” In the end, the plane landed normally. Herzog was banned from the airline for life but, he laughs, it went bust two years later anyway. Herzog tells this story to illustrate how he’ll face anything that’s thrown at him, as if that was ever in any doubt. Now approaching his 70th birthday, the German film-maker has assumed legendary status for facing things others wouldn’t. He’s lived a life packed with intrepid movie shoots, far-flung locations and general high-stakes film-making. He has a biography too dense to summarise. But his tale also confirms the suspicion that he’s helplessly drawn to danger and death. Or vice versa.

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moonraven's avatar

By moonraven, April 16, 2012 at 5:00 pm Link to this comment

And you are full of excrement.

And are now on IGNORE, as you are a crashing BORE.

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Egomet Bonmot's avatar

By Egomet Bonmot, April 16, 2012 at 4:57 pm Link to this comment

One THOUSAND and forty-eight bile filled posts against all comers since May, 2010.  You have addictions, Moonraven   grin

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By moonraven, April 16, 2012 at 4:48 pm Link to this comment

No part of your racist personal attack is true, bigmouth whiteboy.

I am a film critic.

And although I respect Herzog as a director who has made many fine films, both fiction films and documentaries, I worship no film director.

Not even Pontecorvo!

I also have no addictions, as I am not a gringo.

And I will flame any stinking racist I feel like flaming.

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By Egomet Bonmot, April 16, 2012 at 1:30 pm Link to this comment

Hate speech?  I worship Herzog!  I’ve met him three times and have attended his films at festivals all over the world.  His cinema verite quote was taken from one of them.

You Moonraven, on the other hand, appear to be having some sort of very public breakdown that compels you to start and maintain endless flamewars with Truthdiggers, brought on no doubt by those many yage & DMT trips with your Guarani brothers around the Amazon campfire.  Another poster got it right:  republican whiteboy.

Time weighs heavy on the internet-addicted.

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By moonraven, April 16, 2012 at 10:56 am Link to this comment

You are correct in regard to the death of one of my indigenous brothers during the filming of Fitzcarraldo, but that doesn’t mean your big pile of steaming hatespeech about Herzog hold any water.

I don’t know what your problem is, and I really don’t WANT to know.  Folks like you who hop into internet to tell everybody how superior they are and how everybody who makes art is a liar and a bum give me a real pain in the ass.

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By Egomet Bonmot, April 15, 2012 at 11:23 pm Link to this comment

“There is always this kind of distant echo as if I were endangering everyone and always dragging them into near-death experiences. That’s all baloney,” he says. “My proof is
that in more than 60 films not a single actor ever got hurt. Not one.”

No SAG actor with speaking lines was hurt, true enough—but a Guarani Indian who worked as an extra was killed trying to haul Herzog’s enormous ferryboat over an Amazon mountain in Fitzcarraldo.  The accident figures prominently in Les Blank’s “Burden of Dreams”, about the making of the film.

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By Egomet Bonmot, April 15, 2012 at 11:10 pm Link to this comment

I’m glad for Truthdig’s continuing fascination with all things Herzog, but the Guardian piece is a little too credulous of Herzog’s self-mythologizing—for instance his recent backyard “shooting” during a live BBC interview. 

Herzog has said “I don’t believe in cinema verite; sometimes a really good *lie* is better than any truth.”  He staged the most
famous shot in his Faith and Superstition in Russia documentary, paying drunk vagrants to peer through the ice of a frozen lake in search of a saint who lives in it’s depths.  And how about the sniffing parfumier who prowls the French hillsides of his latest cave docu?

It’s Herzog’s great triumph imho to have foisted so much bullshit on his public and made it stick.

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By moonraven, April 15, 2012 at 11:49 am Link to this comment

Interesting synchronicity—I was just thinkng and posting about his film, Cave of Forgotten Dreams on the Iran thread—and here he is again.

I concur with his posture.  I want to see what’s coming at me, too—and I don’t think I have lived nearly 68 years to put my head in the sand at the crucial moment.

Fidel Castro is 85, and he wants to see what’s coming at him, too.

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By RickinSF, April 14, 2012 at 6:45 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Big fucking deal.

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By gerard, April 14, 2012 at 10:51 am Link to this comment

Being afraid amounts to believing that you will not be able to perform, do your job, cope.

Believing one is able to cope is a requirement for staying alive.

Death introduces the indisputable fact that you may not be able to cope.

Everybody fears death until they are forced by circumstances beyond their control to admit that they can no longer cope.

Life forces every living being to fear death automatically.  The cells fear death.  The molecules fear death.  The toe nails, the ear drums, the heart and the brain—the eyeballs perhaps most of all—fear death.

Something like that.

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