Feature

Herzog’s boundless dedication

Werner Herzog is prepared to suffer anything for his art, says Richard Grant in the London Telegraph. “Contrary to what people believe about me, I am not a reckless madman,” says the German director . . .

Werner Herzog is prepared to suffer anything for his art, says Richard Grant in the London Telegraph. “Contrary to what people believe about me, I am not a reckless madman,” says the German director, best known for the film Grizzly Man. “But I do seem to attract misfortunes.” One of his most memorable mishaps occurred while filming in Antarctica. “An 800-pound snowmobile came after me and rolled all over me and left me smarting for five weeks. Apart from that, everything went smoothly.” Once, during the making of Even Dwarfs Started Small, one of his dwarf actors caught fire. Herzog threw himself onto the burning actor to put out the flames. Then he told the cast, “If all of you get out of this film unscathed, I am going to jump in the cacti.” When the time came, he took a flying leap into a patch of 7-foot-high cacti with 3-inch spines. Deeply impaled in several places, he carried some of the spines in his body for years. “People make too much of that. It was nothing, a gesture of sharing, something to entertain the actors.” Undoubtedly, his worst experiences came during the filming of Fitzcarraldo in South America. “We had two plane crashes. We had a border war break out between Peru and Ecuador. We had fires. We had a man bitten by a poisonous snake. Fortunately, we had the presence of mind to cut off his foot with a chain saw or he would have died.”

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