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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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Title: Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe (1980)

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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

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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 »


References Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972) See more »


Old Whisky Shoes
Played by Walt Solek Band
Courtesy of Starr Records
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"Old whiskey shoes"
1 October 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This is a little documentary prepared by Les Blank about Werner Herzog's sort of bet to Errol Morris that he should make a movie, but if he did with the luck that he would need as a first time director, he would literally eat a shoe. Herzog adamantly says in the documentary that he's only doing it in support of Morris and his film (which at the time this doc was released didn't yet have distribution despite its great acclaim at festivals), though there's something sublimely absurd about it all, even through Herzog's deadpan/serious talks to the camera. He talks a bit about Morris and his film too, and his praise for it is all well and good. But it's even more interesting to see a) Herzog's views on commercialism and film-making and the lack of "adequate images", and b) director Les Blank's inventive cross-cutting between the on-stage eating of the show, footage of Charlie Chaplin doing the act in a silent, and Herzog talking to the camera. It's funny once or twice, perhaps unintentionally from Herzog's words (i.e. "it's not self-destructive to throw yourself into a pile of cactus"). But for the most part it's meant as a very serious act of foolishness not just for Morris but for filmmakers everywhere. If you can find it- and it's now available on free sites like you-tube- it's worth a look, especially if you're a fan of Herzog. And for Morris fans too there's a quick treat in an outtake from Gates of Heaven spliced in at one point. That song, by the way, of which I quote in the one-line summary, is awesome.

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