Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Of Vampires and the Eating of Shoes

Overcast today - here and there a patch of sky shines slightly blue. Now and again it rains, heavily.

I've a day off from work today - it's half-term this week for the school I teach at on Tuesdays. I've been reading a book of interviews The Solitary Walker lent me (oh dear, if he reads this he'll remember...), Herzog on Herzog (Ed. Paul Cronin). Werner Herzog is my favourite film-maker (to date - I'm not a great film buff so my all-time favourite may yet to be discovered).

As Cronin says:
"...the number of false rumours and downright lies disseminated about the man and his films is truly astonishing... I confess to having deviously longed to trip him up, ... but to no avail. I now conclude that he's either a master liar, or more probably, he's been telling me the truth. ... He is not insane, nor is he eccentric. ... Rather, he is an extremely pleasant, generous and modest man who happens to be blessed with extraordinary vision and intuitive intelligence."

You do scratch your head when you read Herzog's accounts of, as a young man, smuggling televisions (and a colt revolver) into Mexico, of working as a rider in a rodeo, of Klaus Kinski shooting at a shed full of extras during the making of Aguirre. Then there's the time he ate his shoe -  American film-maker Les Blank made a famous short film of the event.

Last night I watched Herzog's Nosferatu. The DVD had a brilliant "extra" on it - this short film about the making of Nosferatu (it turns out it's also on Youtube). It's doubly good if you've read the Cronin book as it illustrates things Herzog talks about in those interviews about the way he works:


I wrote a poem today.

In Our Town

In our town
when it rains
young girls
text in shop doorways
the light they hold
in their hands
shines on their faces while inside
shopkeepers stand plastic buckets
between the aisles

In our town
when it rains
the pessimists climb trees
the lonely people
balance broken cups
on dry-stone walls
and the policemen
run for cover

In our town
when it rains
the statues weep clichés
and the flowers grow


Alan Burnett said...

That's my kind of town and you are my kind of poet. As for the eating habits of WH, I can almost understand him wanting to eat a decent pair of leather shoes but I wouldn't fancy tucking into a pair of those plastic and fabric things you get these days. No sustenance in them at all.

Gwil W said...

I see you've got your town sussed out Dominic. I hope they come after you ;-)

"The poet must not avert his eyes"
- Herzog, after being shot by an idiot with an air rifle during a BBC interview in LA.

I sat very near him about 10 years ago at Venice film festival. We may even have exchanged pleasantries in the semi-darkness. I think it was the film about the strongman. But I'm not absolutely sure.

Gwil W said...

I mean I hope they DON'T come after you!

Dominic Rivron said...

Thanks for these comments:

AB: Absolutely not. I take my hat off to him (although I wouldn't go so far as to eat it). I'm far too squeamish to eat my shoe - and I'm a vegetarian, anyway.

Gwil W: Thanks for that. I'll watch my back. I wonder if Herzog has ever been mistaken for Ian Botham (or vice versa)?


Not only do they look alike...

"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."

Werner Herzog

"Retiring for good wasn't difficult. I knew at the time it was right. I was no longer capable of achieving the standards I'd set myself and there was no light at the end of the tunnel."

Ian Botham

Joanne Noragon said...

Oh, dear. I don't understand the reference to tea cups and hope you explain. The images are spot on.

The Weaver of Grass said...

I must say that I have yet to see a pessimist up a tree in our town (but then, I can't think of a pessimist anywauy)

Gwil W said...


Charlie Chaplin eating shoe (1926 The Gold Rush).

Britta Hill said...

Dear Dominic,
I love your poem - can see the town before my inner eyes.
I like Werner Herzog, but my heart beats for Wim Wenders (especially the German Road Movie "Im Lauf der Zeit", in black&white, concerning the passing away of little cinemas, but also male friendship; or "Falsche Bewegung" - parts of them you can see on youtube - though I don't know if they were only in German).

The Solitary Walker said...

Dominic, I love Herzog's films, and I'm glad you're enjoying the book. (Yes, I had forgotten I'd lent you it!)

And what about the time WH was shot at while being interviewed? And the time he walked halfway across Europe? But the shoe-eating has to be crème de la crème.

I adore your poem.

A Cuban In London said...

I loved your poem. There's lyricism and rhythm running through. Herzog was always the uncompromising artist. I saw The enigma of Kaspar Hauser many years ago and I'm still affected by it.

Greetings from London.

Dominic Rivron said...

Thanks for these comments.

JN: Thank you. The teacups. If anyone can explain the reference, I would be interested to see what they think.

WG: But have you been there when it's been raining heavily?

GwilW: Interesting. A precedent. I've not seen that mentioned before in relation to the Herzog.

BH: Thanks. I'll check out WW. I know so little about film I'm interested in any suggestions people make.

SW: Thank you. Yes - the interview where he's shot at is on Youtube too. Then there's the time he rescued Oscar-nominee Joaquin Phoenix from his wrecked car.

CiL: Yes, KH is unforgettable!