When asked what skills he thinks a filmmaker should have in order to shoot a film, Herzog had a pretty interesting requirement. "If an actor knows how to milk a cow, I always know it will not be difficult to be in business with him," adding that he can spot those with farm talent from a long way off. "I can tell from miles away, yes. Woody Allen is not ever going to milk a cow." That's probably the closest Herzog will ever get to a coherent zinger, so we'll give him that one.
As fans of the director know, he has recently launched his Rogue Film School, a program to educate budding filmmakers that is as eccentric as the man himself. Among the varied syllabus for the school is Virgil’s "Georgics," Ernest Hemingway’s "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber" and "The Warren Report" on the JFK assassination which Herzog calls, "A most fantastic crime story -- a most conclusive, most intelligent thing that the human mind can put together. It's a fantastic piece of human ingenuity."
And you might think that Herzog would believe in the conspiracy theories around the murder but actually, he's in the camp that believes Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone -- and don't even get him started on Oliver Stone's "JFK." "Everybody raves and rants against it, and nobody reads it, including those like Oliver Stone who has made a film on the assassination. He has not read it. I know because I asked him. Oh no, he is not reading this crap. I said, 'you're wrong, shame on you,'" Herzog said.
But it's not just directors who are still around and kicking that Herzog targets, but he recalls that his frequent collaborator Klaus Kinski didn't think much of a couple respected international auteurs. "He refused offers by Fellini, Kurosawa, and others," Herzog explained. "It was clear to him that the films we made would define him. Why does he refuse an offer by Fellini, for example? Because the thought he made bad films. And I share his opinion."
So, Herzog is not making many friends with cinephiles with that comment, but he's probably not too worried about it. Anyway, you can go see if Herzog's latest effort stands up with the titans of cinema when his 3D documentary "The Cave Of Forgotten Dreams" opens on April 29th.