The many journeys of Werner Herzog have taken Germany’s greatest living philosopher-auteur across the globe in search of human truths in all their forms, distilling his Herzogisms upon everything from lives lived in isolation at the ends of the earth to the augmented reality warzones we create on our smartphones every day, just trying to catch Pokémon on the street.
But even the famously anti-tech Herzog couldn’t resist dissecting the siren call of life and art in the digital age. His latest film, Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World, ponders the good, the bad, and the toxic realities of our modern online existence. Meanwhile, he’s made use of the Internet to recruit protégés to his Rogue Film School and this summer even debuted a six-hour online filmmaking course for the hopeful Herzogs of the future.
So when I met with Herzog this week to discuss the agony and ecstasy of relentlessly digital living, I asked the inimitable filmmaker and accidental cultural critic if he might like to analyze the latest work of Kanye West, the internet’s own Fitzcarraldo, whose 10-minute “Famous” music video (dir. Kanye West) racked up over 13 million views on YouTube, fueled a celebu-brawl that wreaked havoc across all your faves’ Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, and is up for an MTV VMA for Video of the Year. The ever-curious Herzog gamely leapt at the chance.
“I have never seen anything like this,” the filmmaker raved, his eyes twinkling.
Watch Herzog on Kanye’s “Famous” in the video below, edited by Nathan Place: