August 12, 2016

'This is Very Good Stuff': Herzog Dissects, Praises Kanye West's Infamous 'Famous' Video

According to Herzog, filmmakers can learn a thing or two about story structure from Yeezy.

As the German documentarian himself explains in the below video, Werner Herzog is often impersonated due to his accent and unique manner of speaking. Whether it be amateur YouTube impressionists or Paul F. Tompkin's incredible Comedy Bang Bang! bits, juxtaposing Herzog's gloomy seriousness with something as benign as a music video seems, at this point, almost too easy a way to score a cheap laugh.

So when I stumbled upon this gem earlier today, my first thought was, "Okay, this has to be a joke."

It's not.

Somehow, amidst a flurry of negativity drawn from an ill-advised journalistic endeavor in Rio, The Daily Beast managed to obtain the above video of the one and only Herzog critiquing Kanye West's latest music video Famous in its entirety.

The controversial (and NFSW) video made waves last month for showing the wax likeness of several of today's most iconic figures lying naked together in bed. There's not much more to the video other than that, and it's seemingly for this reason alone that Herzog lauds West's efforts as a filmmaker.

"There’s all of a sudden a guy out there, in the world of rappers, who is doing something that I’ve always tried to get across to people who want to make movies."

Herzog admits to not even knowing who quite a few of the celebrities are, aside from Donald Drumpf and Rihanna. At one point later in the video, Herzog even struggles to remember Bill Cosby's name, instead referring to him as "the entertainer who was accused of sexual misconduct with women."

Still, Herzog finds much to dissect. We've compiled a few highlights.

"The most interesting thing for me as a storyteller is, in a movie, yes, you do have a story. But at the same time you have to organize a parallel story. A separate, independent story that only occurs in the collective mind of the audience. 

And when you hear the rap, which is very well done, all of a sudden it gives you more time than anything else just to reflect on it. And this video gives you space for creating your separate parallel story.

And you keep thinking, are these people for real? Are they doppelgängers? And what could be the story of them? What are they doing? How have they partied? What brought them together?

So all of a sudden, the rapper gives me the chance to completely go wild on my own story. On the collective audience that he has out there. It’s very, very interesting. I see something very wild here, which is essential in real deep storytelling."

Credit: Shutterstock

"There’s all of a sudden a guy out there, in the world of rappers, who is doing something that I’ve always tried to get across to people who want to make movies. I try to explain to them that there’s not just a story that you are telling and you are concocting some sort of relationship between people and you have a flow of narration. Sometimes it accelerates, sometimes it slows down. I try to embed, to implant moments where time doesn’t matter anymore. There’s a standstill, there’s only breathing.

And all of a sudden the audience can depart and look ahead of things. Like in romantic comedy, very quickly, as an audience, we depart and we think about this young couple of lovers and they have a lot of obstacles. We race ahead, how can they find each other at the end of the film? We try to create our own scenarios. Our own story to somehow bring them together. And we are very pleased when the film actually fulfills our images."

"It’s deceivingly well cast. The fact that there is just breathing and imagining is wonderful about it. This is very good stuff."

"If [West] applies to my Rogue Film School with this film, I would invite him, because I have never seen anything like this and it really has caliber. It shows us that the internet can be well beyond 60-second cat videos…although I like them as well."      

Your Comment

9 Comments

Love Herzog, but people who find depth in Kanye are shallow and ignorant. His pop rant music does not sell many records even though he is the greatest marketer in the history of rap. All style. Zero substance.

August 12, 2016 at 8:16PM

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Jake
185

You sound like an biased, uneducated, Kanye hater. "His pop rant music does not sell records.." Do you live under a rock? He just passed Michael Jackson in top-40 hits and has sold over 21 million albums and has 66 million digital downloads worldwide. He's someone a lot of us filmmakers respect because he's always pushing boundaries and creating something artistic and bold, which is the same goal we're all trying to achieve amongst an over-saturated, recycled concept industry. Can he personally be an asshole? Yeah and maybe you don't like his character but that has nothing to do with his art and creativity and a lot of his music has depth and substance so I can tell you clearly don't listen to Kanye or respect him enough as a creative to even do your research on him. Not everybody has to agree with Herzog and we're all entitled to our opinion as art is subjective but I understand where he's coming from. To call people "shallow and ignorant" because they have an opinion on art comes off really pretentious and makes your hateful argument completely invalid. Nice try on being a troll though. I'm sure us "shallow and ignorant" people, as well as Kanye will do just fine in our future endeavors.

August 13, 2016 at 4:42AM

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Brad Watts
Filmmaker/Creative Director - Redd Pen Media
380

And you sound like the typical ignorant Kanye fan who lacks the rap base of knowledge necessary to evaluate his styled up rants relative to better artists. Kanye is essentially The Flaming Lips of rap. All style. No substance.

August 15, 2016 at 4:22PM

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Jake
185

Why is anyone praising a racist? If someone said classical music is "white" music, I wonder how quickly that person would be expelled from the industry? Imagine the reverse of his "acting white" comment or if a white musician treated a black musician like he did Taylor Swift. Its pathetic people buy his music.

August 13, 2016 at 2:18PM

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Josh.R
Motion Designer/Predator
990

Oooooh, we're going there today, children?
Firstly, please tell me in what way does he benefit off the backs of people of color socioeconomically, where he has the ability to directly affect their lives negatively. When does he also have the ability to freely murder someone based on the color of their skin from a superior social point of view, and then have a society support it?

When he does, then you can call Kanye a "racist".

What you mean to say is that Kanye speaks his mind truthfully and it makes some White folks feel a certain way. "Who's that negro talking all out n' uppity like that?!", right?

C'mon, it's just us here. You can be open about your "feelings on the man".

For the record, Taylor Swift is a corporate construct "Pop Star", via Wachovia Bank. She's hardly in a position of distress; a typical [genuinely] racist tale of the frail white "angel" against the BIG BLACK APE.

In comparison to your personal feelings on 'Ye from your....blatant point of view, it seems you're more in favor of large 1% establishment support, rather than a real "uncontrollable" grounded POV on high art. What most Caucasians fiend for on a daily basis in the Art and Fashion worlds to begin with.

Don't you think that's much worse for society as a whole, art world or otherwise?

Hmn.

August 13, 2016 at 4:54PM, Edited August 13, 4:59PM

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I think I get Herzog's point. But honestly the video isn't that much of a gem. Still don't know how this became such a controversial topic, is nothing new or revealing,except if you still live in 1993.

August 13, 2016 at 10:27PM

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I sow this music video and I thing that's amazing. Taylor Swith is probably so mad;P

August 14, 2016 at 3:54PM

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"Donald Drumpf"

You're hilarious!

August 15, 2016 at 10:52AM

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Marc B
Shooter & Editor
750

haha wow just saw this, I have a google chrome plug-in that automatically changes trump to drumpf, so I didn't catch it. might as well leave it how it is.

August 29, 2016 at 10:29AM, Edited August 29, 10:29AM

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Jon Fusco
Producer/Editor
Actor/Writer/Director