|Werner Herzog in New York City And in Flat Out Funny Documentary
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Posted: May 17, 2012
by Ted Greenberg
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There are many great things about New York City and its vibrant arts scene. This afternoon, New Yorkers have a chance to hear heralded filmmaker Werner Herzog (Grizzly Man; Aguirre, the Wrath of God; Fitzcarraldo) wax poetic about his piece in this year’s Whitney Biennial. And, there’s nothing funnier or more endearing than hearing the German auteur speak.
An avid documentary fan, I will watch just about anything. I will profile some of my other favorite docs in future posts. Right now, I want to focus on Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe, the 1980 short film by Les Blank, whose other films have focused on garlic, gap-toothed women and Dizzy Gillespie. For this weird gem, Blank trails Herzog as he prepares to eat his shoe.
Now, why exactly would Herzog cook his shoe? A bet, it turns out. Herzog bet aspiring filmmaker Errol Morris that if Morris ever made a film, Herzog would eat his shoe. Upon the release of Gates of Heaven, Morris’s brilliant documentary about pet cemeteries, Herzog kept his word.
With the help of famed chef Alice Waters of Chez Panisse, Herzog tenderizes the shoe, cooking it with duck fat and red hot sauce. Just the act of seriously cooking a shoe is hilarious. Add in Herzog’s deadpan running commentary, and Blank hit comic gold. Here’s a short sample of Herzog’s bon mots: “I’m quite convinced that cooking is the only alternative to filmmaking. Maybe there’s another alternative; that’s walking on foot.” You may watch the 20-minute film in its entirety on YouTube.
For tickets and information to see Werner Herzog at the Whitney, which starts at noon, visit the museum’s web site.
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Tags: les blank, movies, werner herzog, whitney museum