Born On This Day — September 5, 1942

Werner Herzog - B&W

In my films landscapes are never just picturesque or scenic backdrops as they often are in Hollywood films. In Aguirre the jungle is never some lush, beautiful environment it might be in a television commercial. Sometimes when you see the jungle in the film it is a reality so strange you cannot trust it, and maybe think it is a special effect. The jungle is really all about our dreams, our deepest emotions, our nightmares. It is not just a location, it is a state of our mind. It has almost human qualities. It is a vital part of the characters’ inner landscapes. The question I asked myself when first confronted by the jungle was “How can I use this terrain to portray landscapes of the mind?” I had never been to Peru before filming but had imagined the landscapes and the atmosphere with real precision. It was curious because when I arrived there everything was exactly as I had imagined it. It was as if the landscapes had no choice: they had to fit my imagination and submit themselves to my ideas of what they should look like.

—Werner Herzog