Werner Herzog gives you three classic films from his Rogue Film School syllabus

Will Schiffelbein

September 22nd, 2010

I feel like if a week goes by and I don't write about Werner Herzog, my life is incomplete. My view of the world becomes disgustingly idyllic. For some reason, I start to believe that the world is anything but chaotic and that human beings are genuinely pleasant creatures. Thankfully, this isn't one of those weeks.

NPR, the last bastion of valuable journalism, spoke with Herzog this past week. In the interview, Herzog gave them a quick rundown of what students at his Rouge Film School are expected to read, and more importantly, watch. Check out the full story, after the break.

Herzog's advice for those that hope to become filmmakers is to read, watch movies, read some more, and continue to watch movies. His reading list is intriguingly scattered, ranging from Virgil’s Georgics and Ernest Hemingway’s The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber to "The Warren Report." However, we're primarily concerned with the films he recommends.

First on this list is the 1948 John Huston masterpiece, THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE. Herzog cites this film as one of the best films Hollywood ever produced and one of the all time great adventure films. On this aspect, I have to fully agree. SIERRA MADRE consistently vies for my favorite movies list, largely due to Humphrey Bogart, gringos, and gold digging. Throw in the greed of humanity and corruption, and you've got one of the greatest classics of American films.


Note: People complain about hyperbolic film critics now? Check out the quote that precedes the trailer for THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE.

Herzog's second recommendation is VIVA ZAPATA, the 1952 film starring Marlon Brando. While this film is also set in Mexico, Herzog clearly insists that this is just a coincidence. However, Mexico and the wild lawlessness of it obviously attracts Herzog in some fashion. He states that VIVA ZAPATA is Brando's finest performance, which is quite a statement. I've never seen the film, but since Werner Herzog himself is insisting I see it, it'll quickly make its way to the top of my Netflix queue.

Finally, Herzog caps of his list of recommended films with SWINGTIME, the 1936 Fred Astaire film. Herzog intentionally slights Ginger Rogers, as he believes that it's Astaire that truly brings the charm. He references the scene where Astaire is dancing with his shadowwhich is a pretty great example of technical filmmaking.

If you're at all interested in films, these are definitely worth check out. That, and Werner Herzog told you to. I do my best to live my life according to Herzog's wishes. For example, here's a rule from his Rogue Film School syllabus.

"Censorship will be enforced. There will be no talk of shamans, of yoga classes, nutritional values, herbal teas, discovering your Boundaries, and Inner Growth."

I'll leave you with Werner Herzog, reading Curious George.


Source NPR

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