Werner Herzog is truly a singular presence in the world of cinema, widely revered for his masterpieces that continue to spark lively conversations among fans and scholars. Through timeless gems such as Aguirre, the Wrath of God as well as Stroszek among others, Herzog has remained a vital part of the discourse surrounding cinema.
In addition to his feature films, Herzog has also maintained a keen interest in documentary filmmaking and has directed several documentary projects himself. Not only that, he has also produced many documentaries in recent years including Fireball: Visitors from Darker Worlds which came out as recently as 2020.
Due to his prominence within film circles, Herzog’s opinions about cinematic education are often widely publicised too. The German director has always been critical of film schools and he conducts workshops with students himself, urging them to think outside the box by learning to develop a habit of intense reading.
Herzog’s literary inclinations have also shaped his taste in cinema because the directors he likes often produce films that have similar sensibilities. While he has praised contemporary filmmakers such as Joshua Oppenheimer, Herzog rarely recommends many films except when it comes to one director.
That artist is none other than the great Iranian maestro Abbas Kiarostami, the leading figure of the Iranian New Wave whose work re-conceptualised the cinematic medium in exciting ways. Commenting on Kiarostami’s 1990 magnum opus Close-Up, Herzog declared that it was a sublime experience and called it “the greatest documentary on filmmaking I have ever seen.”
Herzog revealed that there are two Kiarostami films he always recommends to people: “If you ever have a chance to see at least two of his films, one of them is called Where Is the Friend’s Home? and the other one is called Close-Up. If you can ever get ahold of these films, and you will find them easily on the internet, you will be awestruck and rewarded.”
However, Herzog’s appreciation for Kiarostami isn’t limited to these two works. Commenting on the intellectual prowess of the Iranian auteur, Herzog once said: “That’s filmmaking at its very very best and it’s like a man who carries 5,000 years of Persian high culture and poetry with him, and all of a sudden it appears in his films.”