Werner Herzog’s Notes on “Fitzcarraldo”

Some excerpts from Werner Herzog’s Conquest of the Useless, detailing the making of his Fitzcarraldo in the jungles of Peru:

A fairly young intelligent-looking man with long hair asked me whether filming or being filmed could do harm, whether it could destroy a person. In my heart the answer was yes, but I said no. Screenshot (190)A drunk spat at the monkey and almost hit him from behind. The monkey inspected and sniffed with great interest at the globule from the depths of an unhealthy lung, as it lay on the ground, greenish yellow and steaming. I said silently to him, Leave it, leave it alone, and he let it be.

The thunderstorm held off all afternoon, but then descended far off over the rain forest, sweating and steaming, as if out there an enormous, violent rape were being carried out. Screenshot (182)I had a violent, absurd quarrel with (Klaus) Kinski about his mineral water, with which he washes himself now. Suddenly Kinski started yelling again…calling Sergio Leone and Corbucci rotten vermin…Fellini a bungling idiot, a fat bastard.

This turkey, this bird of ill omen, is a pure albino, so it is quite a sight when it fans its great white wheel, spreads its wings, whose tips trail to the ground and puffs its feathers. Snorting in bursts, it launched several feigned attacks on me and gazed at me with such intense stupidity emanating from its ugly face. I pulled a feather out of its spreading rear end. Now the turkey’s sulking. Screenshot (195)Tumors form on the trees. Roots writhe in the air. The jungle revels in debauched lewdness.Screenshot (185)When I went into the forest to take a shit, a pig followed me , snuffling and waiting with shameless greed for my shit. Even when I threw sticks at it, the animal only took a few symbolic steps backwards.

Not a Soldier Monkey

I had a dream that I was a soldier in the wings of a stage. I was waiting with other soldiers as I practiced my line: “We’d like a drink.” I was practicing that in my head when I noticed I was surrounded by peasants, small and young; the other soldiers were gone. I flailed at the black curtains and saw the other soldiers on stage and leapt behind them just as the Innkeeper said, “Vodka?” That was the line after mine.
20140204_185000I retreated to the corner to watch the drunken dancing unfold and thought. I am a person.  I am not a monkey. I don’t look like a monkey. I don’t smell like a monkey. I don’t do anything like a monkey. I don’t know what I am . I just know what I’m not. I’m not a monkey.