“My films have been about the same things, the same chaos, for 40 years. They are looking into the abyss of time. Or any abyss. The cave is an abyss. My next film is on death row. That will also be an abyss picture”
get the light right and the battery runs out. And on and on.”
Strange things happen around encounters with Werner Herzog. In 2006, during an interview with the BBC’s Mark Kermode, an unknown assailant with an air rifle took a shot at him. Herzog looked down at the wound, noted that “it [was] not a significant bullet” and carried on giving answers. Back at the Ritzy we can still see the body. I’ve already overheard his producer describe the situation as a very Herzogian one. But when I mention as much to the director he isn’t having any of it.
“No, no, no,” he says. “I am not simply about death. There is a lot of humour in my films, including this one. It goes completely wild into a science-fiction fantasy with albino crocodiles and mutants.”
Like his back catalogue, the man François Truffaut once described as “the most important film director alive” is drily contrarian. Even when he’s agreeing with you he’s inclined to preface his responses with “no” or a small shake of the head.
“I love cinema but I do not watch cinema,” he says. “I make cinema. That’s okay. What’s wrong about that? I have staged operas, but I never go to them either. I listen to the CDs and work on the productions, but I never, ever go to the opera house as a spectator. I went a few times long ago and found it very disappointing. I do not need to see other operas staged in order to stage my own. There are some film-makers who see two or three films a day. Quentin Tarantino grew up in a vidéothèque watching two or three trash movies a day and he loved it. I’m different. It’s