'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."
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."
"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."