24 Thoughts on Life from Werner Herzog

Modern audiences might know him best for his guest shot in the Disney Plus Star Wars spinoff series The Mandalorian, but decades before that the notorious Werner Herzog was building a substantial body of film work.

He’s known for epics adventures like Aguirre, the Wrath of God and Fitzcarraldo as well as the thriller Nosferatu — all of which starred his actor-adversary Klaus Kinski. Yet he’s also a prolific director of penetrating documentaries such as Grizzly Man, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, and Into the Abyss.

In Paul Cronin’s book of conversations with him called Werner Herzog: A Guide for the Perplexed they discuss the legendary director’s career from its inceptions to more recent productions.

In the book, Herzog offers a list of thoughts for aspiring filmmakers, but in truth it really applies to anyone who wants to live a life of boldness and purpose.

24 Thoughts on Life from Werner Herzog

  1. Always take the initiative.
  2. There is nothing wrong with spending a night in jail if it means getting the shot you need.
  3. Send out all your dogs and one might return with prey.
  4. Never wallow in your troubles; despair must be kept private and brief.
  5. Learn to live with your mistakes.
  6. Expand your knowledge and understanding of music and literature, old and modern.
  7. That roll of unexposed celluloid you have in your hand might be the last in existence, so do something impressive with it.
  8. There is never an excuse not to finish a film.
  9. Carry bolt cutters everywhere.
  10. Thwart institutional cowardice.
  11. Ask for forgiveness, not permission.
  12. Take your fate into your own hands.
  13. Learn to read the inner essence of a landscape.
  14. Ignite the fire within and explore unknown territory.
  15. Walk straight ahead, never detour.
  16. Maneuver and mislead, but always deliver.
  17. Don’t be fearful of rejection.
  18. Develop your own voice.
  19. Day one is the point of no return.
  20. A badge of honor is to fail a film theory class.
  21. Chance is the lifeblood of cinema.
  22. Guerrilla tactics are best.
  23. Take revenge if need be.
  24. Get used to the bear behind you.


Photo: Lionsgate Entertainment

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