In The Believer is a conversation that took place at Brandeis University in the fall of 2007, moderated by Alice Arshalooys Kelikian. And this is the best conversation I have ever read:
ERROL MORRIS: Yeah. The intention is to put the audience in some kind of odd reality. [To moderator] Werner certainly shares this. It’s the perverse element in filmmaking. Werner in his “Minnesota Manifesto” starts talking about ecstatic truth. I have no idea what he’s talking about.
But what I do understand in his films is a kind of ecstatic absurdity, things that make you question the nature of reality, of the universe in which we live. We think we understand the world around us. We look at a Herzog film, and we think twice. And I always, always have revered that element. Ecstatic absurdity: it’s the confrontation with meaninglessness.
I was talking with Ron Rosenbaum, a friend of mine, who had just finished a book on Shakespeare. We were talking about the meaning of meaninglessness. Is there such a thing? And I would say: yes. Werner’s work could be considered an extended essay on the meaning of meaninglessness.
WERNER HERZOG: Thank you, yes. It feels good to hear that. [Laughter]
WH: [. . .] And I said that we were going to do a film there in Plainfield, and that really upset Errol a lot. He thought I was a thief without loot. This was his country, his territory, his Plainfield, and I shot in Plainfield. I shot a film, Stroszek, which I think is forgotten and forgiven by now, and we can maintain friendship over this now.
EM: I told Werner: For you to steal a character or a story isn’t real theft. But to steal a landscape, that is a very, very serious crime.
WH: I understand that. I take it to heart, but there actually is a film out there, and we can’t take it off the map.
EM: It’s a very good film.
WH: It has a beautiful end with a dancing chicken, and I really like it.