Five Favorite Films with Werner Herzog
The director of Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans talks about his wild career.
During his remarkable 40-year career, Werner Herzog has made some of world cinema's boldest films -- including Aguirre, the Wrath of God, Stroszek, Fitzcaraldo, and a remake of Nosferatu. In recent years, he's approached mainstream success in the United States, with the eccentric documentary Grizzly Man and the Vietnam war film Rescue Dawn, which starred Christian Bale. His latest, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, features Nicolas Cage and Eva Mendes in the tale of a cop who tries to solve a brutal murder and keep his grip on reality while battling drug addiction, gambling debts, and familial woes.
It's not just the quality of Herzog's films that's made him a favorite of movie buffs; Herzog has become legendary for his exploits both on and off the set. He once promised to eat his shoe if Errol Morris ever finished his documentary Gates of Heaven, and followed up on the bet when filming was completed. He was shot by an air rifle on the grounds of his home while doing an interview with the BBC. During the making of Fitzcarraldo, filming was interrupted by a border dispute between Ecuador and Peru; two members of his crew survived plane crashes; his original leading man, Jason Robards, was hospitalized halfway through shooting, and Robards' replacement, the legendary Klaus Kinski, was so combative on the set that a group of native extras asked Herzog if they could kill him (these and other tales are detailed in Herzog's documentary, My Best Fiend), and engineers told him it was impossible to pull a steamship over the side of a hill with the system of ropes and pulleys he was using -- and Herzog proved them wrong. Even his latest release has generated its share of controversy: Abel Ferrara, the director of the original Bad Lieutenant, said he hoped the makers of Port of Call: New Orleans would die in an explosion -- despite the fact that Herzog says the film is not a remake, since he's never seen Ferrara's movie.
In an interview with Rotten Tomatoes, Herzog shared some of his favorite films, and discussed his attraction to film noir, how his films are "secretly mainstream," and the differences between working with Nicolas Cage and Klaus Kinski.
Freaks (1932, 95% Tomatometer)
Intolerance (1916, 95% Tomatometer)
Where Is the Friend's Home (1989, 100% Tomatometer)
Rashomon (1950, 100% Tomatometer)
Nosferatu (1922, 98% Tomatometer)
Next, Herzog talks about creating working with Nicolas Cage vs. working with Klaus Kinski, and what he thinks of critics.