Fan Ho is one of Asia’s most beloved street photographers, capturing the spirit of Hong Kong in the 1950s and 60s. His work shows a love of people combined with unexpected, geometric constructions and a sense of drama heightened by use of smoke and light. More
Approaching Shadow, 1954. Photo: Fan Ho/AO Vertical Art Space
Has there ever been a more fascinating figure in film than Werner Herzog? I must say that this is one of the best interviews with him I’ve read in a long time, and you can find it here. A hat tip to you, James Rocchi.
At one point in “Fitzcarraldo,” Klaus Kinski’s character has a throw-away line where he notes “Respectability made me bankrupt; I’m better off there, down by the river.” And I’m wondering where you are between respectability and the river at this point in your life?
(Laughs.) I’ve never left the river.
You never left the river?
No, I’ve always been right in life itself, doing my battles and soldiering on; I don’t really care much about respectability. I was invited to get, for example, an honorary doctorate from Cambridge, and I refused.
Because? Because you could be shooting?
No… I’m not the man for this kind of respectability. (Laughs) It doesn’t fit me! Do you think “Dr. Herzog” would be fitting for me? No, it wouldn’t!
I think, considering some of the other people who have gotten honorary degrees in the past, you might be classing it up a little bit, quite frankly…
No, no, no; I’m not the guy who’s made for it. My argument is that I’m so much against academia, let’s say, in filmmaking, in film schools, that I had to found my own Rogue Film School, which is really an absolute contrast to what is happening in film schools worldwide. In particular when it comes to film studies and film theory, it’s just a destructive force out there that tries to stifle the small flames of poetry in cinema.
There’s a discussion of how typing is not writing; writing is the editing process, the cutting, as opposed to just typing. So you know what you want and get it.
Yes, but: you still have to keep open to surprises; you cannot plan everything. In “Into the Abyss,”—and I keep speaking about it because there’s not a single person in the film I knew more than 60 minutes in my life—no preparation, no life after, no meetings after or before; in front of the camera I would meet the people and get the best out of them. One example where it doesn’t fit, one pregnant woman—who was pregnant from one of the perpetrators—asked me to meet her over lunch, because she was suspicious — who was I, what was my plan? So I met her for an hour and a half for lunch, before I was shooting. That’s the only exception.
That movie has that incredible moment where you just start talking to a gentleman about a squirrel…
… and that’s what you can’t learn in film school. He’s the chaplain in the death chamber, present as the last man present with a prisoner who’s dying. And he comes rushing to my set, and I identify him—we spoke briefly on the phone—and I say, “I’m Werner Herzog, is it okay that we put you in front of these concrete crosses of buried inmates who were not claimed by families?” He says “Yeah, yeah, yeah, quick, quick…”—the first thing he says is “Quick, quick.” Tapping his wrist watch, because he had to; what I didn’t know was that he had to be in the death chamber in 40 minutes, and I had 20 minutes with him. And he starts to talk in front of the camera like a phony TV preacher—how beautiful God’s creation is, and that everybody will be redeemed, and everybody will find the mercy of God in paradise—I disagree with that, but anyway—and he speaks about being at the golf course, and squirrels, and a horse looking at him and he would see deer and switch off his cellphone. And I interrupt him; from behind the camera, I’m asking “Tell me about an encounter with a squirrel.” And all of a sudden, he’s hit by lightning, and he unravels, and he becomes very human and very deep—and this is something you will never learn in film school; you do not. You cannot learn it in film school; you can only learn it out at the raging river out there in life; you have to find the heart of men; what is going to break them open? And I’m asking a question no one would ever, ever, ever ask—no journalist, no filmmaker would ever ask “Tell me about an encounter with a squirrel.”
Herzog: The Collection (Shout Factory, Blu-ray) is the biggest Blu-ray box set to get released this year. The collection presents 16 films on 13 discs spanning three decades, from his second feature Even Dwarfs Started Small (1970) to his documentary tribute / remembrance My Best Fiend (1999), which profiles his long, turbulent personal and professional relationship with Klaus Kinski. Apart from Nosferatu the Vampyre, the films all make their respective Blu-ray debuts in the U.S., mastered from new digital transfers produced by Herzog and supervised by Herzog’s longtime producer Lucki Stipetic.
For more, see our archive under the tag, Werner Herzog.
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If you read one thing today, make it Werner Herzog on creativity, self-reliance, money, and how to make a living of doing what you love.
The video begins humorously as Anthony Carbajal, a photographer, dresses up in a neon bikini top and soaps up a car before being doused with ice water.
Janet Mock on Beyoncé’s feminism.
"I don’t want to film a ‘slice of life’ because people can get that at home, in the street, or even in front of the movie theater. They don’t have to pay money to see a slice of life. And I avoid out-and-out fantasy because people should be able to identify with the characters. Making a film means, first of all, to tell a story. That story can be an improbable one, but it should never be banal. It must be dramatic and human. What is drama, after all, but life with the dull bits cut out. The next factor is the technique of film-making, and in this connection I am against virtuosity for its own sake. Technique should enrich the action. One doesn’t set the camera at a certain angle just because the cameraman happens to be enthusiastic about that spot. The only thing that matters is whether the installation of the camera at a given angle is going to give the scene its maximum impact. The beauty of the image and movement, the rhythm and the effects—everything must be subordinate to the purpose."
"A clear horizon — nothing to worry about on your plate, only things that are creative and not destructive… I can’t bear quarreling, I can’t bear feelings between people — I think hatred is wasted energy, and it’s all non-productive. I’m very sensitive — a sharp word, said by a person, say, who has a temper, if they’re close to me, hurts me for days. I know we’re only human, we do go in for these various emotions, call them negative emotions, but when all these are removed and you can look forward and the road is clear ahead, and now you’re going to create something — I think that’s as happy as I’ll ever want to be."
Alfred Hitchcock (August 13th 1899 - April 29th 1980)