How to make a good film? Steal a camera, says Werner Herzog

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How to make a good film? Steal a camera, says Werner Herzog

The visionary director talks about his latest work, abiding friendship, and the stupidity of not knowing the Bible better

Chris Harvey

“Do we care today that Caravaggio was a murderer?” says Werner Herzog. “I don’t think we do.”

The great German director is chewing over the question of whether it matters if an artist is even a moderately decent human being. We’ve been talking about Klaus Kinski, the foul-tempered, violent actor whose immersive intensity Herzog employed for 15 years in classic films such as Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972).

At one point during the making of that film, Herzog took out a gun and threatened to shoot Kinski in the head if he left the set. “You wouldn’t want to be friends with a man like Kinski,” he tells me, but ... “In the long run, I believe what counts more than anything is how good was the film, how good was his performance, does it have substance enough to stand the test of time?”..

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