When Errol Morris set out to make his extraordinary documentary concerning the keepers of pet cemeteries, Gates of Heaven, Werner Herzog - who encouraged him, despite the younger man's notorious indecisiveness - informed him that if he finished the film, he'd eat his shoe. At Gates of Heaven's premiere at the UC Theater, Herzog did just that after boiling it in garlic, herbs, and stock at nearby restaurant Chez Panisse with the aid of chef and co-owner Alice Waters.
Burden of Dreams director Les Blank documents it all: Herzog's arrival in California, the culinary preparation of his footwear, his purchase of a new pair of boots and the publicity stunt itself, where Herzog ingests his shoe with numerous condiments - except for the sole, which he likens to bones. Interspersed with appropriate footage from Chaplin's The Gold Rush, Herzog's own Even Dwarfs Started Small and Gates of Heaven itself, the prolific German filmmaker has a good laugh at himself when he's not complaining about the glut of uninspired aesthetics in culture, and its relationship to capitalist excesses. His own deadpan is so perfect that it can be difficult to determine whether Herzog's joking or not, but like everything else he's done, this great little short only serves to again confirm him as the ultimate daredevil filmmaker, who's willing to do anything for a laugh, a worthwhile filmic project or both.
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