The Unbearable Like-ness of Bae-ing: Werner Herzog

The Unbearable Like-ness of Bae-ing is a semi-regular column where we write about whatever baes we like at present. We will not apologize for the name.

Right now I’m taking a course on Werner Herzog, who is possibly my favorite figure in German cinema – not necessarily for his movies, but for his pop culture presence. He has inspired a parody Twitter account. He was in an episode of Parks and Rec. Paul F. Tompkins does a regular impression of him. His documentary filmmaking, and filmmaker persona, are parodied in The Penguins of Madagascar. Most Germanists I know can do a pretty serviceable impression of him: just say some stuff about the brutality of nature and the chaos of existence in a vaguely Bavarian accent, and you’re good.

My academic interest in Herzog focuses more on his collaborations with Klaus Kinski and the “insane” protagonists in Aguirre, the Wrath of God and Woyzeck. I wonder why Herzog put up with Kinski, a noted awful dude. At times, Herzog seems as crazy as Kinski, insisting on practical effects in his films that led to serious injury. But that’s not what I’m here to talk about. What I’m concerned with today is the fact that Werner Herzog is foxy as heck.

Exhibit A: Herzog filming Fitzcarraldo. Cool mustache, cool parrot.


Exhibit B: Herzog filming Aguirre, the Wrath of God, talking about the obscenity of the jungle. Tortured genius? Totally bonkers? Doesn’t matter, still hot.


Exhibit C: Herzog and his bear friend. Just kidding, that bear is not his friend, because in the faces of all bears there is “no kinship, no understanding, no mercy…only the overwhelming indifference of nature”. Bears are not your friends. Werner Herzog is not your friend. This is a key part of his appeal.


In conclusion: Werner Herzog makes a lot of fascinating movies that we should watch, celebrate, and interrogate. He is also bae. This has been The Unbearable Like-ness of Bae-ing: Werner Herzog.

Addendum: consider the degree to which a young Klaus Kinski looks like Sebastian Stan, a bae whom Amy, our resident Sebastian Stan stan, will profile in the near future.


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