Arts & Entertainment, Writing

Invaded by Images: Part 2

Werner Herzog

Lesson time 10:10 min

Amazing stories are often a combination of discoveries. Werner breaks down the genesis of Fitzcarraldo and the development of scenes in Stroszek.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Combining ideas in unexpected ways • Stroszek's ending


A very good example about the genesis of the film would be Fitzcarraldo. It's a film about an Irish man, Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald. Nobody can pronounce his name in the Amazon. And he wants to bring great opera into the jungle. And he moves a ship over a mountain. It started out with me looking for rugged coastlines for a completely different film. First place I ended up was in Britain and the Northwestern corner of France. And arrive at darkness at a place, Carnac. And Carnac, I didn't know that it existed. It is famous for its neolithic menhirs, that means slabs of stone, erected in parallel lines, 4,000 of them, up the hill, down the hill. It's just unbelievable. You cannot believe your eyes. In the brochure, the writer claimed that these slabs of rocks could not have been erected by stone age men, 5,000, 6,000, 7,000 years back. That they must have been planted by alien astronauts. And I said to myself, how insipid, how grotesque. Of course it was Stone Age men and of course there were no alien astronauts ever visiting us. So I took a vow. I said I'm not going to leave until I know how, as neolithic men, I would move a slab of stone, slab of rock, over, let's say, two miles or two kilometers of distance. And how I would put it up right. And then I thought, how would I move this gigantic slab of rock, either on very big hardened oak logs, hardened in fire. And I would use ropes. Of course, in neolithic time, you can assume they had ropes. And I would build turnstiles where people would walk around in circles and coiled the rope up. And this is a real strong machine, in a way. So that was one element. Later in the film, you see exactly how I used it to move a 300 something ton ship over a mountain. The second element was a friend of mine visited me in Munich and he said, Werner, you have to come back to Peru to the jungle. I had done a there before. And everybody loves you there. And come back, come back. And I said I would come back right away if I had a story. And he said, I came to you because I have a story. It's about a robber baron whose name is . Again, people couldn't pronounce his name. And he told me a completely boring story about a robber baron who was very rich and had a private army of 3,500. And at the end, drowned in a boat accident. And I said, but that's not a story for me. It's boring. It doesn't make sense. So it was disappointing. And when he walked out, he stopped in the door and turned around and he said, Werner, there's one thing I've forgotten, a detail. Once this guy disassembled a huge steamboat into hundreds of pieces and moved it across an isthmus, a flat isthmus from one river system to another inaccessible river system. And I said, that's my movie. [MUSIC PLAYING] These great, incredible visions sometimes have to take root ...

About the Instructor

When the legendary director Werner Herzog was 19, he stole a camera and made his first movie. 70 films and 50 awards later, Werner is teaching documentary and feature filmmaking. In this film class, you’ll learn storytelling, cinematography, location scouting, self-financing, documentary interview techniques, and how to bring your ideas to life. By the end, you’ll make uncompromising movies.

Featured MasterClass Instructor

Werner Herzog

In 6 hours of video lessons, Werner Herzog teaches his uncompromising approach to documentary and feature filmmaking.

Explore the Class
Sign Up