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Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe (1980)

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A short documentary in which directors Werner Herzog and Erol Morris make a bet which results in Herzog being forced to eat his own shoe.



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Credited cast:
Master of Ceremonies
Michael Goodwin ...
Driver / Interviewer
Assistant Cook
Chris Strachwitz ...
Dwarf Voice (voice)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Phil Harberts ...


A passionate cook, acclaimed filmmaker Werner Herzog stuffs some culinary aromatics into his shoe and uses the laces to truss it like a chicken, before he sticks it into a pot with water and duck fat to stew it. It is so that he can bring the stewed shoe to one of the first screenings of Errol Morris' debut film Gates of Heaven (1978) to eat it. This act will fulfill his loss of a bet to Morris, who he met as a student filmmaker, that he would never be able to make a movie. The bet was not Herzog's attempt of a jab against Morris, but rather to support a struggling but gifted Morris in his quest to do whatever was required to finance a movie project. In the process of eating the shoe, Herzog wants to encourage other aspiring filmmakers, and to set an agenda of increasing what he calls adequate images as a true reflection of the world. Written by Huggo

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Documentary | Short





Release Date:

October 1980 (USA)  »

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Did You Know?


Included as a bonus feature in the Criterion Collection's DVD release of Burden of Dreams (1982). See more »


[first lines]
Werner Herzog: If we speak of television it's just... ridiculous and destructive. It kills us. And talk-shows will kill us. They kill our language. So we have to declare holy war against what we see every single day on television, commercials and... I think there should be real war against commercials, real war against talk-shows, real war against Bonanza, Rawhide or these things.
See more »


Features Gates of Heaven (1978) See more »


Old Whisky Shoes
Played by Walt Solek Band
Courtesy of Starr Records
See more »

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User Reviews

Herzog, the keeper of promises
7 April 2013 | by (São Paulo, Brazil) – See all my reviews

Werner Herzog is a great example of someone to be trusted. Really trusted. Not only he encourages aspiring filmmakers to make their movies in any possible ways, inciting them to engage in passionate act as if it were a revolution to be made ("Steal a camera, steal raw stock! Break into a lab and do it!") but also he's a man who keeps his promises. Once he makes them (usually crazy ones), he's definitely gonna fulfill it. At one time he jumped on a cactus while filming "Even Dwarfs Started Small" just to entertain the dwarfs who survived the filming of his movie after many troubled incidents. He said he would jump on it if they managed to make the whole film and he did, carrying some scars from such act. And years later he would eat a shoe after making another absurd bet, this one more challenging to more people and more poetic in a way. He lost again and it was time to show and tell. Here's the living proof filmed by Les Blank in 1980.

The proposition was: Herzog convinced film student Errol Morris to make his first film, and if he succeed in doing so he would eat his shoes. Literally. Morris went on to make "Gates of Heaven", a documentary about a pet cemetery and its owners, which was acclaimed by critics and public starting a promising career of a future Oscar winner and a great documentarist. When the movie premiered in NY Herzog traveled all the way to pay his debts, set up a whole meal to go with his shoes - one to be eaten in front of an audience, the other one only if Morris film get a distributor.

A brave yet foolish gesture, very noble of Werner and whose purpose was exactly what he intended to do: to push Morris forward and go after his dreams. He truly believes in this human's search and conquest for their dreams, speaking of this with plenty of passion in "Burden of Dreams", also directed by Blank, where we follow Herzog's troupe while making the epic "Fitzcarraldo" and his almost impossible task of making a steam-ship crossing over a mountain among other difficulties. "Without dreams we would be like cows in the field" he says there. Combining both documentaries you have a full image of the director, a truly inspiring one, and if like he says that films can't cause revolutions but can cause some personal change, then his thoughts and acts in both films can cause a real revolution inside each viewer.

"Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe" isn't just the title, it's also about the man exposing his views on culture, television, holy war against Bonanza and commercials, and the lack of an adequate language in the media. Everything he said was truth back then and it's truer even now, more than 30 years later. Very insightful opinions. But of course, seeing the director of "Aguirre" eating the same shoes he used when he made the bet is priceless, adding garlic and tempers to make it tasteful, the audience watching him cook, laughing all the time, it's a humorous view intercut with Chaplin eating his shoes in "The Gold's Rush". I think the one thing that was missed in here was an interview with Errol Morris, he's nowhere to be found in the film, and his comments on Werner would be interesting here.

There's only one person who I can believe we'll keep his promises and that's Herzog. Many people can say many times that things will get better (when life doesn't go our way) but if Werner says that it will, then I have to believe. Why? Because he promised. And this film is just an example of someone who respect his promises, even the weirder ones. 10/10

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