Monday, November 06, 2006

Meeting Herzog

As much as I don't want to title a post with the cliched 90's gerund, it just seems appropriate this time. 25 years ago I sat enthralled in the cinema classes I was taking as part of the film production degree I was earning at the University of Texas. The main part of the program was the technical part of making films, but I used my extra hours taking foreign film critique classes that expanded my knowledge of great filmmaking throught the world. I was exposed to Bergman, Ozu, Bunuel, Godard and many great barely viewed auteurs. One of the filmmakers whose work seemed to really speak to my soul was that of the intense & dynamic German director Werner Herzog, who coincidentally, is the person standing next to me in this photo - just another day hanging out in Antarctica! It seems like I have gotten more than my share in the last few years of meeting some of my idols: I held hands with Springsteen during a song where he crooned to the people who were standing in the front row. I danced onstage with Elvis Costello at an Austin City Limits show in 2004; and got to meet Sir Edmund Hillary my first season on the Ice. But I never thought I'd meet Herzog - it just seemed too....farfetched. I remember c. 1981 sitting around some shabby Victorian house in Austin, drinking wine with a bunch of intellectuals/punk rockers, feverishly talking over each other about art, music, films...and the standout memory of that evening is of this giant black & white poster of a young Werner Herzog hanging on an otherwise blank wall. I tried to barter something for it with the owner, but it never became mine. Today, while I was hovering around downstairs at "baggage claim", awaiting Herzog's arrival, I was nervous & sweating- afraid that he might be annoyed by some gooney fan accosting him after his arduous journey halfway around the world. But he was gentle & kind, and generously gave me his attention while posing for this picture (thank you Shuttle Bill!). I sometimes assume people who are known for their creative brilliance will be disinterested in meeting anonymous fans - but Herzog was so charming & gracious, that I was a little bit I didn't actually deserve so much kindness from someone I'd admired from a distance - but then again, he's spent his life following his creative muse, which probably leaves one satisfied and agenda-less...but I'm going off an a tangent here that could go on forever. I'm just really really greatful for the surprises that have come my way.