During the filming of Aguirre, the Wrath of God, Werner found himself in dire need of a lot of monkeys for the climactic scene. He asked some local trappers to gather up as many as he could, about 400 or so, offering to pay half the fee in advance. When he found out that the trappers instead intended to sell the monkeys to private owners in the United States — with many of them likely to die on the way there — Werner intercepted them. He claimed to be a veterinarian and that the monkeys would need vaccinations before being allowed to leave the country. The trappers reluctantly handed over all 400 monkeys and Werner loaded them onto his jeep and drove off. He brought them back to the set, used them in the scene and then released them all back into the jungle.
In 1974, when he learned that his friend Lotte Eisner (an accomplished film researcher and essayist) was deathly ill, he determined to walk from Munich to Paris to see her; he had some vague idea that his troubles on the road would somehow lessen her suffering. It seemed to have worked — three months later, when he finally saw her, Eisner was not only still alive but beginning to recover. She lived another eight years.