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Arts & Entertainment

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.

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


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 ...

Capture the spectacular

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.


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

great course, I learned a lot about film making

Absolutely wonderful. Inspiring like no other. It's a true privilege having access to Werner's way of thinking in such an open way.

what a man! in french we say "hors du commun" that's what makes the world and your master classes so interesting: you meet people who have visions of the most important things in life and want to transmit it: respect...and many many thanks...i'll end with a happy image among very sad and emotional stories : the cocoricodance: very french

I was most interested with understanding the very special way that Herzog views things. It was more like watching a documentary, for me. It was worth it! I also felt a support to follow my own dreams...


Mark S.

Yes, being open to life as a narrative play of consciousness that is beautiful and compelling is a mark of mastery whether you are a filmmaker or a dog catcher. To see a world in a grain of sand. Reality is granular and we can zoom in or zoom out, angle up, down, sideways. Taking different perspectives is a hallmark of evolved consciousness. There is an aesthetic to the mundane if we only have eyes to see it, the artist shaman is able to present the images that bring a gestalt of wholeness to the seeker. This brings healing and bliss.

Eric G.

Speechless...amazing ending. Genius creativity. Love his man's approach to film making.

Jesse J.

WOW. That ending from Stroszek with the animals is incredible. Loved every bit of it.

Jeff T.

Werner never ceases to amaze me. He is truly unique. I could never be like him, but I can take from him in this lesson to be observant, open, curious, and thoughtful. As a filmmaker--especially a self-financed on like myself--you've got so much on your mind, logistically, that it's not easy to keep on top of all the various details at any given moment and keep yourself open and curious. But Werner shows us why it is so important to cultivate in ourselves. This is the most important lesson in Werner's course so far--for me.

Sarah Jane P.

Humans are Bonkers! Herzog reminds us to be ready to film the abject absurd in our humanity, and convince the crew that there is depth in the breadth of our musing for an audience.

Jim S.

I'm a screenwriter and I write all my screenplays based on places and people in my hometown. Although I try to write them in such a way that they could be filmed anywhere in the US. There are 5 Asian restaurants within walking distance of my house and many of the characters are Asian.


I can imagine what you had to do to get the crew filming the Dancing Chicken and all the animals. Sometimes, LIFE just happens for a reason. Who would know that sign "Is this really me?" is right there... Perfection!

Bob Z.

Thank you Werner for making me laugh today. That dancing chicken was so good and the music went along with it perfectly.

Adam H.

I think you have to read between the lines here. What Herzog is essentially saying is how he is finding inspiration thru his life experiences that he eventually weaves into a body of work. You have to have imagination but it also has to be precise and detailed. The scene shown from the film Stroszek with the animals dancing, each representing a different theme says a lot about how humans function in much the same way. Thank you for this lesson.


Well, I can tell from reading the comments that y'all need to spend more time in the Carolinas!