A Guide for the Perplexed

24 filmmaking and life pieces of advice by Werner Herzog

Grizzly man (Werner Herzog, 2005)
  1. Always take the initiative.
  2. There is nothing wrong with spending a night in jail if it means getting the shot you need.
  3. Send out all your dogs and one might return with prey.
  4. Never wallow in your troubles; despair must be kept private and brief.
  5. Learn to live with your mistakes.
  6. Expand your knowledge and understanding of music and literature, old and modern.
  7. That roll of unexposed celluloid you have in your hand might be the last in existence, so do something impressive with it.
  8. There is never an excuse not to finish a film.
  9. Carry bolt cutters everywhere.
  10. Thwart institutional cowardice.
  11. Ask for forgiveness, not permission.
  12. Take your fate into your own hands.
  13. Learn to read the inner essence of a landscape.
  14. Ignite the fire within and explore unknown territory.
  15. Walk straight ahead, never detour.
  16. Manoeuvre and mislead, but always deliver.
  17. Don’t be fearful of rejection.
  18. Develop your own voice.
  19. Day one is the point of no return.
  20. A badge of honor is to fail a film theory class.
  21. Chance is the lifeblood of cinema.
  22. Guerrilla tactics are best.
  23. Take revenge if need be.
  24. Get used to the bear behind you.

On its back cover, the book entitled Werner Herzog – A Guide the Perplexed offers 24 pieces of advice for filmmakers from the “sensible” fiction film and documentary director, Werner Herzog. Some of them, for instance No. 4 and 15, may also be useful in everyday life. Werner Herzog (1942), an icon of the so-called new German cinema, who became renowned for his 1970s visual spectacles often celebrating the encounter of humans with the pure physicality of the world. In his film Land of Silence and Darkness (1971), the deaf-blind visit a cactus farm or take their first airplane flight. However, he made an indelible mark in the film history in 1979 by his remake of the Murnau’s famous silent film Nosferatu (1922). His latest film, Queen of the Desert, about the life British writer Gertruda Bell, who mapped the region of Iraq and Jordan, is to be released this year.