Animated Video Features Werner Herzog Discussing His Childhood Adventures & 20th-Century Rage

I’m not sur­prised that film­mak­er Wern­er Her­zog hates the com­mod­i­fi­ca­tion of the word “adven­ture,” when he’s spent over four decades court­ing it in the most clas­sic sense. In the New York Pub­lic Library Con­ver­sa­tion Por­trait above (one of a series that includes the John Waters pro­file we brought you ear­li­er this week), the ven­er­a­ble direc­tor describes the sort of child­hood that could cause one to take a dim view of pack­aged tours mas­querad­ing as adven­ture.

After the infant Her­zog sur­vived a bomb­ing that cov­ered him in rub­ble, his moth­er, under­stand­ably fear­ing for her chil­dren’s safe­ty, fled to the moun­tains. The remote­ness of his upbring­ing shel­tered him in some ways (“I did not even know that cin­e­ma exist­ed until I was 11”) and not, in oth­ers. (“At age four, I was in pos­ses­sion of a func­tion­ing sub­ma­chine gun and my broth­er had a hand grenade.”)

When he says that hunger was a pre­vail­ing theme, I dare you to dis­agree.

I’m like­wise inclined to pay atten­tion when he asserts that the mod­ern obses­sion with tech­nol­o­gy is gob­bling resources at a dis­as­trous pace, and that thou­sands of world lan­guages will have dis­ap­peared for good by 2050.

Dire pre­dic­tions, and yet he fills me with cheer every time he opens his mouth. I swear it’s not just that mar­velous, much imi­tat­ed voice. It’s also a com­fort to know we’ve got a pro­lif­ic artist remain­ing at his out­post from a sense of duty, gloomy yet stout as a child in his belief that an ecsta­sy of truth lies with­in human grasp.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Wern­er Herzog’s Eye-Open­ing New Film Reveals the Dan­gers of Tex­ting While Dri­ving

Por­trait Wern­er Her­zog: The Director’s Auto­bi­o­graph­i­cal Short Film from 1986

Mas­ter Cura­tor Paul Hold­en­gräber Inter­views Hitchens, Her­zog, Goure­vitch & Oth­er Lead­ing Thinkers

Ayun Hal­l­i­day looks in the eyes of the bear Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.