Few voices on Earth are as well-suited to sounding off on decline and despair as that of Werner Herzog, a director whose gloomy Germanic soothsaying has become almost as iconic as his nearly 100 films. So it’s not wholly surprising that Herzog—fresh off of a retrospective festival hosting his entire body of work to date—would eventually weigh in on the “significant novelty” of American President Donald Trump, or that the man who made a film hero of Klaus Kinski would find a certain pleasure in Trump’s vulgar groping of power.
“He’s the first time you have a real independent,” Herzog said as part of a long, borderline self-parodic interview recently published in Rolling Stone. “He’s turned against the Republican Party, and he’s vehemently against the media, justifiably so to some degree, and I find this a very significant novelty. Trump and Bernie Sanders stuck out because he’s authentic. And it’s mysterious how Trump is getting away with literally everything. I see it with great, strange fascination.”
Of course, Herzog’s strange fascination doesn’t have to grapple with actually living life in Trumpland, where battles continue to rage over the fate of the country’s healthcare system. Not that he’d likely care; the Rolling Stone interview is full of typically Herzogian assertions about his indifference to his own well-being or death. “I’m not that interested in whether I perish or not,” he noted. “It would be of very minor significance.” Fair enough.