Werner Herzog Only Watches 3 Movies a Year (and Other Things He Might Tell You Over Dinner)

If Werner Herzog was staying for supper, what would you serve? You couldn't very well offer Hamburger Helper to the director that's been dubbed by some the "single most important film director on the planet." If you were looking to color this fanciful dinner party in your head, or if you just can't wait for the limited edition of Herzog: The Collection, check out UCTV's "An Evening with Werner Herzog" below, and get a sense of the influences in Herzog's life, how it influenced his filmmaking philosophy, and other humorous/infuriating/enlightening conversation.

Herzog is the main course in this UC Santa Barbara talk with acclaimed writer Pico Iyer, offering up an array of details about his life, from not having shoes until age 11 to using the written word in times of the worst distress, as well as the filmmaking process behind Fitzcarraldo and Cave of Forgotten Dreams among others. Here are two hours for your viewing pleasure that might be especially fun if you're counting the days until Shout Factory's Herzog: The Collection limited release in July:

In my fictionalized evening, I imagine Herzog would drink white wine, and that wouldn't be the first thing we'd disagree about. It would certainly be an intriguing event. Herzog is known for his poetry and colorful discussions in person, as well as his polarizing opinions on many topics. Here, for example, is Herzog's response to Iyer asking him about the fact that the he doesn't actually watch many films:

No I do not. I maybe see two or three films as an average per year. Sometimes more. I was at the Berlin Film Festival serving on the jury. Of course, being on the jury I had so see all the films in competition, which was twenty! So all of a sudden I saw twenty films. But I'm familiar with film history. The real good films, I know. You see, the problem with festivals is a very fundamental one. We have 3000, maybe 4000 festivals a year worldwide, but we have only three of four real good films. That's a fundamental problem. And sometimes it's not even three!

What do you think about Herzog's thoughts about the number of films worth watching, or anything else in his talk? How many films do you watch a year?

[via Indiewire]

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Your Comment


Fundamentally in error. You cannot know a film to meteoroid or otherwise until you've seen it. Theoretically, there could be 1000 great films every year and a snob would never know it.

April 17, 2014 at 6:29PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


Meritorious* geez

April 17, 2014 at 6:31PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


its true, its pure math. More crap then good.

April 17, 2014 at 7:26PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM

John Wilton

To say there is only two or three good films a year presumes much. Mathematics leads to a reliable conclusion that there will not be 1000 good films. And why listen to one man's opinion. Herzog clearly has a preference for what he considers quality. That does not determine my opinion of quality. At best, it can only influence it (which is some cases it does). My favorite of Herzog is the documentary about the bear guy. But I tend to prefer my directors to avoid ostentatious talk about film, and put all that energy into their films.

April 17, 2014 at 9:05PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


Whether or not I agree with everything Herzog has to say, I know that I want to keep listening. He's a great orator and an inspirational wanderer of the planet and humanity. He can spin any ordinary question into a fanciful tale about, say, aboriginal demise or fleeing the U.S. to ride bulls in Mexico. His personal accounts are often more fascinating than the ones he rolls into his films. After hearing him speak, I want nothing more than to read and to travel, so that the world might partially reveal itself to me.

April 18, 2014 at 3:04AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


WHAT A HIPSTER! " I only watch 3 movies a year "

April 18, 2014 at 5:46AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


such a wonderful speaker..

April 18, 2014 at 6:05AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


I think I watch way too much and write and shoot way too little. Maybe taking Herzog's approach would help me be a more productive screenwriter and filmmaker.

April 18, 2014 at 8:42AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


Watching a shit load of movies are constant inspiration for me to progress with my script, new ideas for lighting, composition, music. That's what drives me. Maybe the process is slower but I will be very satisfied in the end with the result.

April 18, 2014 at 9:46AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


There probably more then three films per year worth watching, but doubt that many worth remembering.

April 18, 2014 at 11:23AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


Never been a fan

April 18, 2014 at 12:19PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM

You voted '-1'.

Way more than 3 good films per year, it just takes a lot of work to find them.

April 18, 2014 at 2:50PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM

Micah Van Hove

Werner Herzog is quite a personality.
However, based on his three of four real good films per year, his films would never get to be seen...

April 19, 2014 at 2:54AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


I think Herzog is right. the majority of "filmmakers" are silly gear heads who are in the business to get rich, and their films suck.

Herzog has earned the right to his opinion. Film is mostly dead industry, it has been commoditized.

April 19, 2014 at 9:43AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM

Dill Picle

Although the interviewer should have asked Herzog what constitutes "good" and by what metrics

April 19, 2014 at 9:44AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM

Dill Picle

I'm gonna call bullshit on Herzog here. He sounds like a guy who is just crying because so many people are able to make films now and he doesn't feel special anymore. A filmmaker saying he doesn't watch films is like a musician saying they don't listen to music...it's fundamentally dumb and i personally don't believe him. People like you, Werner. You don't have to play coy.

April 20, 2014 at 9:32AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM