Werner Herzog interview



Yesterday the Guardian published a great interview with Werner Herzog.


“Ideally, he would be out on a shoot right now. Until then there are books. Herzog reads voraciously; he says that all the good directors do.”

“Does he read in English or German? ‘Ha,’ he says, as though I have fallen into his trap. ‘I read in other languages, too. I read in Spanish and I read in Latin and I read in ancient Greek and I read in, er, whatever. But it doesn’t matter. It depends on the text. I mean, take, for instance, Hölderlin, the greatest of the German poets. You cannot touch him in translation. If you’re reading Hölderlin, you must learn German first.’”

“So does he think that speaking in a second language somehow makes him more respectful and considerate?”””

“‘Ha,’ says Herzog, The pedant pounces. ‘English is not my second language. My second language is German.’”

“Fine, I say. Third language then.”

“‘Ha,’ says Herzog. ‘My third language is Latin.’ No question can pin him, no lockdown can hold him. He will keep reading, raging, sparring clear through until Christmas.”


I recall reading something similar in Akira Kurosawa’s autobiography. Kurosawa was a voracious reader. Ideas he had read and thought about would filter through his dreams, which he would record and later incorporate into his films. One of Kurosawa’s last films, Dreams, was a series of vignettes about these dreams.