Werner Herzog on the jungle’s “articulate obscenity”, “misery”, and “sort of harmony of collective murder”

& (verbiage overflow)Wed 02 July 2014RSS

Werner Herzog, during the filming of “Fitzcarraldo” in Pongo de Mainique, Peru (c. 1981):

Of course we are challenging nature itself, and it hits back. It just hits back, that’s all. And that’s grandiose about it and we have to accept that it is much stronger than we are.

[Klaus] Kinski always says it’s full of erotic elements. I don’t see it so much erotic; I see it more full of obscenity. It’s just — and nature here is vile and base. I wouldn’t see anything erotical here; I would see fornication and asphyxiation and choking and fighting for survival and growing and just rotting away.

Of course, there’s a lot of misery. But it is the same misery that is all around us. The trees here are in misery, and the birds are in misery. I don’t think they sing; they just screech in pain.

It’s an unfinished country. It’s still prehistorical. The only thing that is lacking is the dinosaurs here. It’s like a curse weighing on an entire landscape. And whoever goes too deep into this has his share of this curse. So we are cursed with what we are doing here. It’s a land that God (if He exists) has created in anger. It’s the only land where creation is unfinished yet. Taking a close look at what’s around us there is some sort of a harmony. It is the harmony of overwhelming and collective murder. And we in comparison to the articulate vileness and baseness and obscenity of all this jungle — we in comparison to that enormous articulation — we only sound and look like badly pronounced and half-finished sentences out of a stupid suburban novel, a cheap novel. And we have to become humble in front of this overwhelming misery and overwhelming fornication, overwhelming growth and overwhelming lack of order. Even the stars up here in the sky look like a mess. There is no harmony in the universe. We have to get acquainted to this idea that there is no real harmony as we have conceived it.

But when I say this, I say this all full of admiration for the jungle. It is not that I hate it; I love it. I love it very much. But I love it against my better judgment.

In Les Blank, “Burden of Dreams” (1982), at time 1:20:04–24:01.


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