Werner Herzog Quotes


Here’s a compilation of some of my favourite WH quotes. He’s THE man so long as he doesn’t have silly Hollywood money at his disposal which somehow strips his work of any authenticity that makes him the genius that he is — cases in point The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans and Rescue Dawn. One gets a double whammy when one views a Herzog film and then re-watches with the commentary track. He (and Keith Richards) come over as the wisest of old owls.

If you switch on television it’s just ridiculous and its destructive. It kills us. And talk shows will kill us. They kill our language. So we have to declare holy war against what we see every single day on television. Commercials and – I think there should be real war against commercials, real war against talk shows, real war against “Bonanza” and “Rawhide”, or all these things.

By dint of declaration the so-called Cinema Verité is devoid of verité. It reaches a merely superficial truth, the truth of accountants. Cinema Verité confounds fact and truth, and thus plows only stones. And yet, facts sometimes have a strange and bizarre power that makes their inherent truth seem unbelievable.

If I abandon this project I would be a man without dreams and I don’t want to live like that: I live my life or I end my life with this project.

It is my duty because this might be the inner chronicle of what we are, and we have to articulate ourselves. Otherwise we would be cows in the field.

I like to direct landscapes just as I like to direct actors and animals.

The kinds of landscape I try to find in my films…exist only in our dreams. For me a true landscape is not just a representation of a desert or a forest. It shows an inner state of mind, literally inner landscapes, and it is the human soul that is visible through the landscapes presented in my films.

Everyone who makes films has to be an athlete to a certain degree because cinema does not come from abstract academic thinking; it comes from your knees and thighs.

Film is not analysis, it is the agitation of mind; cinema comes from the country fair and the circus, not from art and academicism. Someone like Jean-Luc Godard is for me intellectual counterfeit money when compared to a good kung fu film.

Coincidences always happen if you keep your mind open, while storyboards remain the instruments of cowards who do not trust in their own imagination and who are slaves of a matrix… If you get used to planning your shots based solely on aesthetics, you are never that far from kitsch.

You can fight a rumour only with an even wilder rumour.

I am not an artist and never have been. Rather I am like a craftsman and feel very close to the mediaeval artisans who produced their work anonymously and who, along with their apprentices, had a true feeling for the physical materials they were working with.
I have never been one of those who cares about happiness. Happiness is a strange notion. I am just not made for it. It has never been a goal of mine; I do not think in those terms.

May I propose a Herzog dictum? those who read own the world, and those who watch television lose it.

I think psychology and self-reflection is one of the major catastrophes of the twentieth century.

Every man should pull a boat over a mountain once in his life.

If an actor knows how to milk a cow, I always know it will not be difficult to be in business with him.

Film should be looked at straight on; it is not the art of scholars but of illiterates.

I think the worst that can happen in filmmaking is if you’re working with a storyboard. That kills all intuition, all fantasy, all creativity.

The world reveals itself to those who travel on foot.

I think it is a quest of literature throughout the ages to describe the human condition.