Werner Herzog is one of the most diverse, uncompromising and staggeringly prolific filmmakers on the planet.
His gaze is often so clear and direct as to become painful, yet a truth regularly reveals itself inside the scrutiny of his work.
Like his work or loathe it, the bottom line is this, every filmmaker can learn from one who famously hauled a huge boat over a mountain. As he himself says… ‘Every man should pull a boat over a mountain once in his life’.
Here are his top ten quotes to keep you on track and inspired.
‘Film is not the art of scholars but of illiterates.’
‘If you do not have an absolutely clear vision of something, where you can follow the light to the end of the tunnel, then it doesn’t matter whether you’re bold or cowardly, or whether you’re stupid or intelligent. Doesn’t get you anywhere.’
‘The best advice I can offer to those heading into the world of film is not to wait for the system to finance your projects and for others to decide your fate.’
‘The universe is monstrously indifferent to the presence of man.’
‘Ambition is to be the fastest runner on this planet, to be the first on the South Pole, which is a grotesque perversion of ambition. It’s an ego trip, and I’m not on an ego trip. I don’t have ambitions – I have a vision.’
‘Money has always had certain explicit qualities: it’s stupid and cowardly, slow and unimaginative. The circumstances of funding never just appear; you have to create them yourself, then manipulate them for your own ends.’
‘My ideas are like uninvited guests. They don’t knock on the door; they climb in through the windows like burglars who show up in the middle of the night and make a racket in the kitchen as they raid the fridge.’
‘Yes, the pyramids have been built, but if you give me 300,000 disciplined men and give me 30 years, I could build a bigger one.’
‘I think the worst that can happen in filmmaking is if you’re working with a storyboard. That kills all intuition, all fantasy, all creativity.’
‘Facts sometimes have a strange and bizarre power that makes their inherent truth seem unbelievable.’
‘I think it is a quest of literature throughout the ages to describe the human condition.’
‘I work very fast and steadily, and I don’t hardly ever notice that I’m working. It feels like just breathing or walking when I do films.’
‘I never have searched for a subject. They always just come along. They never come by way of decision-making. They just haunt me. I can’t get rid of them. I did not invite them.’
‘a phone, computer and car — are all you need to produce films.’
Onwards and upwards!