Pura Vida: The Enigma of Werner Herzog

The man, the mystery, the medium unto himself.
Burden Of Dreams
The Criterion Collection
By  · Published on August 25th, 2017

At one point, revered director Francois Truffaut called Werner Herzog “the most important film director alive.” I personally tend to agree with that statement, but even if you don’t, you have to concede Herzog is certainly among the most interesting. Herzog is bound by nothing but his mortality, and even that he seems to cavalierly disregard on a regular basis. He’s not afraid of subjectivity, in narrative features or documentaries, and he’s not afraid of staring directly at subjects and character types most wouldn’t even look towards. Herzog isn’t a filmmaker so much as he is a film wrangler, he wrestles his pictures to the frame like the wild things they are but doesn’t domesticate them so much as he shines a spot on their innate wildness. Herzog is, for lack of a better word, fearless, utterly and completely, and that translates into every reel he’s ever shot.

To understand Herzog is to understand the wind, he is just as enigmatic and elemental, but the following video from Fandor does a damn fine job of encapsulating the living mystery that is the man. Using the director’s own words and films, this essay manages to sculpt substance from the fog of ethos surrounding Herzog and cast him as an artist of unusual talent and regard. Love him or not, we should all be in awe of Werner Herzog, and this is an excellent primer on exactly why.

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