Heartwarming: Werner Herzog

  • 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 eminent film historian and author of the definitive monograph on Fritz Lang) was deathly ill, he decided to walk the 500-odd miles from Munich to Paris to see her, in the belief that his effort might somehow lessen her suffering. It seemed work: three months later, when he finally saw her, Eisner was not only still alive but beginning to recover. She lived another eight years.
  • His participation in the Roger Ebert documentary Life Itself, speaking about Ebert's importance and strength as a film critic. A few years earlier, Herzog dedicated Encounters at the End of the World to Ebert, something that the latter appreciated.
    Werner: He is a soldier of cinema who cannot even speak anymore. And he plows on. And that touches me very deeply.