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Celebrated filmmaker Werner Herzog, known for his adventurous and thought-provoking work, has embarked on a new journey with his recently released memoir, “Every Man for Himself and God Against All.” While Herzog’s films have taken audiences to remote and rarely seen corners of the world, his memoir delves into the fascinating encounters and adventures that have shaped his unique perspective.
Despite the book’s relatively modest length of 350 pages, Herzog insists that it could have been much longer, yet he didn’t want to overwhelm readers with an exhaustive account of his experiences. Instead, he sought to explore aspects of his life and interests that hadn’t found a place in his films or previous writings.
Herzog clarifies that “Every Man for Himself” is not a traditional biography, but rather an extension of his lifelong quest for understanding the natural world and human nature, which has been a driving force behind his cinematic endeavors. He emphasizes that his films have always been driven by curiosity and a profound sense of awe, exploring the outer limits of human existence and the depths of the human soul.
The memoir includes anecdotes and insights that couldn’t be conveyed through his films. It also provides a deeper understanding of the inspiration behind his cinematic work, drawing connections between his experiences and the themes explored in his movies.
One prominent figure in Herzog’s memoir is actor Klaus Kinski, who collaborated with the director on several films. Kinski’s intense and unpredictable nature left a lasting impact on Herzog’s work, and the memoir delves into the challenges of working with such an eccentric talent.
Herzog’s voracious appetite for reading is evident in his writing, as he draws inspiration from a wide range of sources, including ancient texts, philosophy, French and Chinese poetry, and the works of Friedrich Hölderlin. He approaches screenwriting as a literary genre and believes that his prose and poetry will likely outlive his films.
The director’s narration has become a crucial element of his films, and he finds solace in recording audiobooks. Herzog’s unique voice and life experiences set his writing apart, reflecting his courage to confront reality, conflicts, disasters, and visions. He acknowledges that while language is a powerful tool, it may not withstand the test of time, as evidenced by the challenges of communicating with future generations about nuclear waste storage.
In contemplating extraterrestrial life, Herzog believes it’s highly probable that other life forms exist in the universe, but he suggests they may be as simple as algae or bacteria. As for whether his works might be discovered by aliens, Herzog maintains a more pessimistic view, citing the vast distances in space that make such an encounter highly unlikely.
In his memoir, Werner Herzog continues to explore the boundaries of human experience and understanding, offering readers a glimpse into the mind of one of cinema’s most enigmatic and adventurous directors.