He’s traveled to the ends of the Earth, been shot, eaten a shoe, pulled a steamboat over a mountain, and much more, so when it comes to life advice from Werner Herzog, one simply has to listen. A new book titled Werner Herzog – A Guide for the Perplexed by Paul Cronin (available here), which features conversations with the director, provides a list of advice from the soldier of cinema on its back cover, and today it’s available online.

Ranging from the obvious (“always take the initiative”) to the bold (“take revenge if need be”) to the Herzogian (“carry bolt cutters everywhere” and “get used to the bear behind you”), one would be wise to print this out and carry it in your back pocket. Check out the list below via Kottke and Open Culture, as well as Harmony Korine’s foreword from the book (via Keyframe). For more from Herzog, we explored the two Blu-ray box sets that were released this past summer.

1. Always take the initiative.
2. There is nothing wrong with spending a night in jail if it means getting the shot you need.
3. Send out all your dogs and one might return with prey.
4. Never wallow in your troubles; despair must be kept private and brief.
5. Learn to live with your mistakes.
6. Expand your knowledge and understanding of music and literature, old and modern.
7. That roll of unexposed celluloid you have in your hand might be the last in existence, so do something impressive with it.
8. There is never an excuse not to finish a film.
9. Carry bolt cutters everywhere.
10. Thwart institutional cowardice.
11. Ask for forgiveness, not permission.
12. Take your fate into your own hands.
13. Learn to read the inner essence of a landscape.
14. Ignite the fire within and explore unknown territory.
15. Walk straight ahead, never detour.
16. Manoeuvre and mislead, but always deliver.
17. Don’t be fearful of rejection.
18. Develop your own voice.
19. Day one is the point of no return.
20. A badge of honor is to fail a film theory class.
21. Chance is the lifeblood of cinema.
22. Guerrilla tactics are best.
23. Take revenge if need be.
24. Get used to the bear behind you.


Werner Herzog – A Guide for the Perplexed is now available.

What do you think of Herzog’s advice?

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