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