Publisher: FREE ASSOCIATION
First published in 1978, this review is of the 2007 reprint.
Werner Herzog is one of the few directors who has continually emphasised the physicality of filmmaking. For Herzog the filmmaking process is as much an expression of brute strength and physical fitness, as it is mental and intellectual agility. In order to fully explore the musculature inherent in his attitude to the art Herzog has travelled the continents in search of harsh and dangerous terrains. This isn’t because of an irresponsible desire for risk taking in my view, but possibly to assuage the embarrassment Herzog might feel for having fallen into filmmaking as a career. In his manifesto for documentary cinema entitled The Minnesota Declaration Herzog states “Tourism is sin, and travel on foot virtue.” One of the key components of his ‘Rogue Film School’ is that “it is for those who travel on foot”, throughout Herzog’s writings and observations he has returned again and again to the idea of travelling on foot as a means to release the poetic qualities within, and to appreciate the landscape as something more than a scenic backdrop. This attitude reached its extreme apotheosis in the winter of 1973/4 when he embarked on a journey from Munich to Paris on foot, in order to visit the ailing German film scholar Lotte Eisner. Herzog believed that undertaking this epic travail in this manner would somehow lead to Eisner clutching to life, and to survive until he finally arrived. In this he was correct and Eisner would go on to live for several years.
© Shaun Anderson 2010