Werner Herzog is a man difficult to summarize in a matter of a few hundred words. He is simultaneously a filmmaker, an artist, and a writer, but neither of these titles get close to doing him justice.
He notoriously got shot in the stomach during an interview but refused treatment. He threatened to kill one of his actors. He once ate his own shoe.
Here's a gif of Herzog drinking cough syrup from a slipper.
His work is equally as compelling as his personality: his films have 8 times been nominated for prizes at the Cannes Film Festival, winning 4 of them.
All of the above probably explains why writer Paul Cronin was inspired to write a book of conversations with the man, titled “Werner Herzog: A Guide for the Perplexed.”
It is on the back cover of this book that Herzog has detailed his 24 lessons on how to live.
How to live life, according to Werner Herzog:
1. Always take the initiative.
2. There is nothing wrong with spending a night in jail if it means getting the shot you need.
3. Send out all your dogs and one might return with prey.
4. Never wallow in your troubles; despair must be kept private and brief.
5. Learn to live with your mistakes.
Watch Werner Herzog get shot during an interview:
6. Expand your knowledge and understanding of music and literature, old and modern.
7. That roll of unexposed celluloid you have in your hand might be the last in existence, so do something impressive with it.
8. There is never an excuse not to finish a film.
9. Carry bolt cutters everywhere.
10. Thwart institutional cowardice.
Watch and listen as Herzog tells the story of a suicidal penguin in a clip from Encounters at the End of the World.
11. Ask for forgiveness, not permission.
12. Take your fate into your own hands.
13. Learn to read the inner essence of a landscape.
14. Ignite the fire within and explore unknown territory.
15. Walk straight ahead, never detour.
16. Manoeuvre and mislead, but always deliver.
17. Don’t be fearful of rejection.
18. Develop your own voice.
19. Day one is the point of no return.
20. A badge of honor is to fail a film theory class.
Watch as Herzog explains his hatred of chickens: "They are the most horrifying, cannibalistic and nightmarish creatures in the world.”
21. Chance is the lifeblood of cinema.
22. Guerrilla tactics are best.
23. Take revenge if need be.
24. Get used to the bear behind you.