Werner Herzog

Overall Rating: 1
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Author: Werner Herzog
Title: Of Walking In Ice
Time: 1974
Destination: Munich to Paris
Length: 26 days
Type: walking
Rating: 1/10

Mournful burglar (stick to thy last)

First things first: WH is a director of New German Cinema and a very good photographer – if you happen to get your hands on a book with his photographic works, make sure to check it out.

shoe-eating movie director

Another thing about WH that I find remarkable is how he ate one of his shoes once. I guess it’s not so much about the eating part, but rather the fact that he didn’t back down from a lost bet. Cool.

So far so good? Not good. This book was horrible.

Here’s the basic idea: In the fall of 1974, WH hears about the French-German film critic Lotte Eisner being seriously ill in her home in Paris. He decides to walk from Munich all the way to Paris, thinking that this heroic act might save the old lady. So he walks. And he rambles.

all about the ramblings

The book is about these ramblings, and it is so slow and painful that every page feels like another blister. Why is the overall atmosphere so grim? Sure, rain and snow have the potential to suck when you’re walking against the wind, but who wants to read 100 pages of depressive blathering?

Here’s a gem from a random page I just opened: “All this is pointless beyond description. Just let them find me sleeping here in this bed, those retarded bricklayers. How the wind is routing the forest outside.” – Jeez… and this is after WH forced his way into an empty house by smashing a window.

Werner Herzog’s swath of destruction

That’s another thing: What’s with all the breaking into buildings? It seem like WH is burgling every other home between Bayern and Île de France, leaving a swath of destruction behind him. I just don’t understand why that should be necessary. At one point he apparently even takes a leak into someone else’s boots…

Now please don’t get me wrong: I understand that a reader doesn’t necessarily have to feel sympathy for an author in order to like a certain pice of writing. And I also acknowledge the fact that travel literature doesn’t have to be 100% truthful. But I just can’t help but dislike this book.

a bad mix

Let me put it this way: If walking is a glass, then WH has just poured all the joy out of it and filled it up with a mix of depression, egotism and “meaningfulness” that I find just way too repulsive to recommend drinking.

The reason why I am not giving this one a zero rating like Paulo Coelho is because I think that WH isn’t as pretentious as him. In fact, he might not be pretentious at all. Maybe he was just in a state of depression during that winter of 1974, and he decided to write it down for all of us to share.

A sad 1 out of 10 is what it is.


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