Many of the Werner Herzog quotes below are regarded as inspirational especially in the field of filmmaking.
Werner Herzog, German film director, and screenwriter is considered as one of the high-profile figures in New German cinema. He was influential in spearheading the post-war West German cinema movement. Up to this day, Herzog has offered a whole new approach to filmmaking in modern times.
Known for his ambitious protagonists, characters with unique talents, and individuals who maintain a conflict with his/her surroundings, Herzog’s critically-acclaimed creations are considered film treasures. He depicts human dilemmas and has made award-winning films and series that top-grossed internationally including The Mandalorian, Aguirre, the Wrath of God, as well as Jack Reacher.
Here are some of the best Werner Herzog quotes about filmmaking to teach you a thing or two about life in general.
Don’t forget to also check out these inspiring Quentin Tarantino quotes on film-making, writing and more.
Werner Herzog Quotes about Cinema
1. “Academia is the death of cinema. It is the very opposite of passion. Film is not the art of scholars, but of illiterates.” – Werner Herzog
2. “Read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read, read…if you don’t read, you will never be a filmmaker.” – Werner Herzog
3. “In the face of the obscene, explicit malice of the jungle, which lacks only dinosaurs as punctuation, I feel like a half-finished, poorly expressed sentence in a cheap novel.” – Werner Herzog
4. “May I propose a Herzog dictum? those who read own the world and those who watch television lose it.” – Werner Herzog
5. “There are deeper strata of truth in cinema, and there is such a thing as poetic, ecstatic truth. It is mysterious and elusive, and can be reached only through fabrication and imagination and stylization.” – Werner Herzog
6. “Someone like Jean-Luc Godard is for me intellectual counterfeit money when compared to a good kung fu film.” – Werner Herzog
7. “If you’re purely after facts, please buy yourself the phone directory of Manhattan. It has four million times correct facts. But it doesn’t illuminate.” – Werner Herzog
8. “A fairly young, intelligent-looking man with long hair asked me whether filming or being filmed could do harm, whether it could destroy a person. In my heart, the answer was yes, but I said no.” – Werner Herzog
9. “I’m quite convinced that cooking is the only alternative to film making. Maybe there’s also another alternative, that’s walking on foot.” – Werner Herzog
Inspirational Werner Herzog Quotes on Life
10. “What would an ocean be without a monster lurking in the dark? It would be like sleep without dreams.” – Werner Herzog
11. “One more thing: Philippe, you are not a coward-so what I want to hear from you is the ecstatic truth about the twin towers.” – Werner Herzog
12. “I believe the common denominator of the universe is not harmony; but chaos, hostility and murder.” – Werner Herzog
13. “Facts do not convey truth. That’s a mistake. Facts create norms, but truth creates illumination.” – Werner Herzog
14. “Look into the eyes of a chicken and you will see real stupidity. It is a kind of bottomless stupidity, a fiendish stupidity. They are the most horrifying, cannibalistic, and nightmarish creatures in the world.” – Werner Herzog
15. “People think we had a love-hate relationship. Well, I did not love him, nor did I hate him. We had mutual respect for each other, even as we both planned each other’s murder.” – Werner Herzog
16. “You should look straight at a film; that’s the only way to see one. Film is not the art of scholars but of illiterates.” – Werner Herzog
17. “What would an ocean be without a monster lurking in the dark? It would be like sleep without dreams.” – Werner Herzog
18. “I have never been one of those who cares about happiness. Happiness is a strange notion. I am just not made for it. It has never been a goal of mine; I do not think in those terms.” – Werner Herzog
19. “I prefer to be alive, so I’m cautious about taking risks.” – Werner Herzog
20. “I’m not into the culture of complaint. I roll up my sleeves and somehow I get it together.” – Werner Herzog
21. “Martin Luther was asked, what would you do if tomorrow the world would come to an end, and he said, ‘I would plant an apple tree today.’ This is a real good answer. I would start shooting a movie.” – Werner Herzog
22. “You will learn more by walking from Canada to Guatemala than you will ever learn in film school.” – Werner Herzog
Motivational Quotes from Werner Herzog
23. “Do you not then hear this horrible scream all around you that people usually call silence.” – Werner Herzog
24. “When you look at the paintings at Chauvet Cave, they’re not primitive or like children’s little scribbles, it bursts on the scene fully accomplished and when you look through the faces of cultural history, art history, it has never gotten any better.” – Werner Herzog
25. “We are surrounded by worn-out, banal, useless, and exhausted images, limping and dragging themselves behind the rest of our cultural evolution.” – Werner Herzog
26. “Get used to the bear behind you.” – Werner Herzog
27. “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
28. “Sometimes bad luck hits you like in an ancient Greek tragedy, and it’s not your own making. When you have a plane crash, it’s not your fault.” – Werner Herzog
29. “Nothing I have witnessed, from lava to crustacean, assailed me liked the caked debris haunting that small plastic soap hammock in the smaller of the bathrooms. Nausea is not a sufficient word.” – Werner Herzog
30. “Truth itself wanders through the forests.” – Werner Herzog
31. “Life in the oceans must be sheer hell. A vast, merciless hell of permanent and immediate danger. So much of a hell that during evolution some species – including man – crawled, fled onto some small continents of solid land, where the Lessons of Darkness continue.” – Werner Herzog
32. “I would travel down to Hell and wrestle a film away from the devil if it was necessary.” – Werner Herzog
33. “Fact creates norms and truth illumination.” – Werner Herzog
34. “The world reveals itself to those who travel on foot.” – Werner Herzog
35. “I discover no kinship, no understanding, no mercy. I see only the overwhelming indifference of nature.” – Werner Herzog
More Werner Herzog Quotes and Sayings
36. “In the evening I finished reading a book, and because I was feeling so alone, I buried the book on the edge of the forest with a borrowed spade.” – Werner Herzog
37. “The danger is to stupidly believe that depicting facts gives us much insight. If facts were the only thing that counted, the telephone directory would be the book of books.” – Werner Herzog
38. “I love nature, but against my better judgment.” – Werner Herzog
39. “I think it is a quest of literature throughout the ages to describe the human condition.” – Werner Herzog
40. “I am torn between the beauty of the natural world, which you see all around us, and the idea that some dumb tornado could blow a telephone pole onto my sweet Camaro.” – Werner Herzog
41. “For such an advanced civilization as ours to be without images that are adequate to it is as serious a defect as being without memory.” – Werner Herzog
42. “At the market, I ate a piece of a grilled monkey —it looked like a naked child.” – Werner Herzog
43. “Civilization is like a thin layer of ice upon a deep ocean of chaos and darkness.” – Werner Herzog
44. “Tourism is a mortal sin.” – Werner Herzog
45. “I despise formal restaurants. I find all of that formality to be very base and vile. I would much rather eat potato chips on the sidewalk.” – Werner Herzog
46. “Every man should pull a boat over a mountain once in his life.” – Werner Herzog
47. “Film is not analysis, it is the agitation of mind; cinema comes from the country fair and the circus, not from art and academicism.” – Werner Herzog
48. “I find all of that a representation of a desert or a forest. It shows an inner state of mind, literally inner landscapes, and it is the human soul that is visible through the landscapes presented in my films.” – Werner Herzog
49. “I think psychology and self-reflection is one of the major catastrophes of the twentieth century.” – Werner Herzog
50. “I have a great map of the Tibesti Mountains in the southern Sahara or Northern Chad. It’s a dream of mine to go there, but it’s such a volatile area, you have to be prudent.” – Werner Herzog
What did you learn from these Werner Herzog quotes?
By just seeing the movies and documentaries created by the filmmaker, one will realize his distinct style that is far different from others. He has a unique approach in relaying the human story to the audience, capturing their inner core, even teasing their critical thinking.
As a role model in filmmaking, Werner Herzog’s quotes truly captivate the heart of aspiring filmmakers, inspiring them to further educate themselves and elevate their talent in the world of cinemas. There are many wannabe directors who would want to be under his supervision and have him as their mentor.
Herzog’s students will surely learn a lot from his teachings, not only in creating meaningful films through strategies and techniques but also in the art of transcending messages beyond boundaries and time.
What did you learn from these Werner Herzog quotes and sayings? Do you have any other favorite quotes to add? Let us know in the comment section below.
May 7, 2021 7:00 AM EST