The Criterion Collection’s DVD of Burden of Dreams (1982) is an excellent package offering a wealth of important contextual information. This includes commentary tracks from directors Werner Herzog and Les Blank, Blank’s informative and absorbing diary of his time in the Peruvian jungle shooting his documentary, a lengthy retrospective interview with Herzog, and most priceless of all a short 20 minute documentary made by Blank in 1980 called Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe. Any release of short documentary material either by or about Herzog is a mini event in itself, and due to the films content and its title this has always been an exotic and long sought after item for those seeking out Herzog related material. Herzog’s militant attitude to filmmaking is given an opportunity to flourish in this short piece which was filmed during one of numerous breaks in the fragmented and troubled production of Fitzcarraldo (1982). At some point in the late 1970’s Herzog made the bold assertion that he would eat his shoe if young filmmaker Errol Morris succeeded in his quest to make a film. This bet was both an inspiration to Morris and an example of Herzog’s attitude to the importance of individuals battling the odds to achieve their vision. Naturally Morris succeeded and the film opens with Herzog flying in to attend a screening of Gates of Heaven (1978) and to make good on his shoe eating bet.
© Shaun Anderson 2010