The Wonderfully Quirky Werner Herzog

My fascination with Werner Herzog dates back to my junior year of college, when I was introduced to one of his more well-known films, Grizzly Man. It was an instant favorite, and memorable in that every single character in the movie is crazy. Every last one.

Exhibit A (The Coroner):

Exhibit B (Timothy Treadwell, a.k.a. the Grizzly Man):

Since then, I’ve enthusiastically recommended the film to friends, and have enjoyed gleaning more nuggets of knowledge on the director responsible for that very strange film.

(Confession: I actually haven’t seen any Herzog movies besides Grizzly Man. However, I still consider myself a fan, because I do know quite a lot about the director’s…well…unconventional life.):

  • According to Herzog, when he was just a few days old in 1942 he was almost killed when Allied bombs shattered a skylight in his nursery, dropping pieces of glass around his bed but — remarkably — leaving the infant uninjured.
  • He didn’t make a phone call until he was 17.
  • Herzog claims to have walked by foot from Munich, Germany, to Paris, France, (a distance of about 500 miles) in 1974 to prevent the very sick film historian and good friend Lotte Eisner from dying (after all, she wouldn’t dare die until Herzog saw her on her deathbed, he reasoned).
  • In 2005, while Herzog was giving an on-camera interview to Mark Kermode for the BBC, the director was shot with an air rifle during filming. Unphased, Herzog continued the interview, saying it was not “a significant bullet.”

Listen to Kermode as he talks about the bizarre experience:

  • In 2006, actor Joaquin Phoenix was in a bad car accident that flipped his car. Herzog appeared at the scene, pulled Phoenix from the car, called 911, and then disappeard.

I’ll leave you with this wonderfully amusing video of “Werner Herzog” reading Where’s Waldo? It’s bleak, melodramatic, and absolutely perfect:

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