Werner Herzog and Errol Morris in The Believer

Werner Herzog and Errol Morris sat down for a discussion last year at Brandeis University, where they talked about each others work including Morris’ latest film Standard Operating Procedure.

Werner Herzog and Errol Morris in The Believer

The Believer Magazine has posted a transcript of their conversation.

Here is a snippet:

WERNER HERZOG: Walking out of one of your films, I always had the feeling—the sense that I’ve seen a movie, that I’ve seen something equivalent to a feature film. That’s very much the feeling of the feature film Vernon, Florida or even the film with McNamara—The Fog of War.

Even there I have the feeling I’ve seen a feature, a narrative feature film with an inventive narrative structure and with a sort of ambience created that you only normally create in a feature film, in an inventive, fictionalized film.

The new film that I saw, Standard Operating Procedure, feels as if you had completely invented characters, and yet they are not. We know the photos, and we know the events and we know the dramas behind it. And yet I always walk out feeling that I have seen a feature film, a fiction film.

ERROL MORRIS: Yeah. The intention is to put the audience in some kind of odd reality. [To moderator] Werner certainly shares this. It’s the perverse element in filmmaking. Werner in his “Minnesota Manifesto” starts talking about ecstatic truth. I have no idea what he’s talking about.

But what I do understand in his films is a kind of ecstatic absurdity, things that make you question the nature of reality, of the universe in which we live. We think we understand the world around us.

We look at a Herzog film, and we think twice. And I always, always have revered that element. Ecstatic absurdity: it’s the confrontation with meaninglessness.

I was talking with Ron Rosenbaum, a friend of mine, who had just finished a book on Shakespeare. We were talking about the meaning of meaninglessness. Is there such a thing?

And I would say: yes. Werner’s work could be considered an extended essay on the meaning of meaninglessness.

WH: Thank you, yes. It feels good to hear that. [Laughter]

Read the full article over at The Believer.

> Werner Herzog and Errol Morris at the IMDb
> Official Errol Morris website
> Official Werner Herzog site
> Hear our interview with Werner Herzog about Rescue Dawn