2002, 2014, Books

A Guide for the Perplexed (2002, 2014) by Werner Herzog with Paul Cronin

Werner Herzog is probably my favourite filmmaker. It’s not that I think he’s “greater” or “better” than others, but that when I see a Herzog film, I know I’m going to see something different, whether it’s his newest film, or some old short of his I managed to find. His films are always provocative, usually funny and often profound. He has made at least 4 of the greatest films I have ever seen, as well as a bunch I find virtually incomprehensible.

This book isn’t exactly an interview with him. Instead, using the approach Herzog himself uses for his “documentaries,” both Paul Cronin and Herzog re-edited the interview to create a new “fake” conversation that they felt more “true.” The result is an engaging, fascinating book about Herzog’s life, movies and the problems of the modern age.

Regardless of how much of it is outright fabrication or exaggeration, it really is a useful guide for people who are struggling with belief and confidence with their art. Regardless of what you might think of Herzog’s work, he has been extremely successful, and regardless of whether or not you think he’s crazy, his method opens up an extraordinary new path for anyone struggling for recognition: you can do everything yourself – with the help of some committed friends. You do not need the system, you just need determination. This, for me, is the central message here, and it’s very inspiring.


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