Werner Herzog reveals surprising love for cat videos

On Tuesday evening the writer-director Werner Herzog took part in an Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Reddit, confirming not only that his mind is as intricately complex as his films but also that he isn’t too different from us.

Werner Herzog reveals surprising love for cat videos
Werner Herzog. Photo: DPA

When the cult German director of films such as Nosferatu the Vampyre and Fitzcarraldo took to his computer to respond to curious fans he talked about a film masterclass he is putting on, but he also gave a surprising insight into his internet browsing habits.

One user asked what Herzog’s favourite animal was, and the filmmaker had a few.

“A falcon, for example, from the place where I live,” he wrote.

“I like cats, because they're so strange sometimes. And you see them on the internet, the crazy cat videos for example, and I'm a fan of them.”

“Just imagine the YouTube comments he leaves,” wrote one user in reply to this revelation.

But the director is not a fan of all animals, as he went on to prove.

“When it comes to chickens, they are so stupid,” wrote Herzog in the same comment. He relished explaining how easy it was to hypnotise a chicken.

“Unfortunately, this is not in my Masterclass. I think there are certain things you cannot learn in my Masterclass,” he acknowledged.

This isn’t the first time Herzog has expressed how he feels about chickens.

In a 2014 Reddit AMA video interview, he went into great detail about his feelings towards them and “the enormity of their stupidity”.

In the accompanying discussion on the Reddit website, somebody asked Herzog why he hates the birds.

“Not in all forms. I like them Kentucky Fried,” he answered.

'I will be teaching crazy things'

Herzog hosted the AMA to promote his new filming masterclass.

The class is currently six hours' worth of video lessons on topics ranging from script-writing to being able to work well with brilliant actors.

Aside from the basics such as editing, music and scouting locations, Herzog said “I will be teaching crazy things” like “how to pick a safety lock.”

“I'm trying to give an organised answer to all these many people out there who want to learn from me,” he explained.

Herzog mentioned that thousands of young people had approached him in the last two decades looking to intern on one of his film crews so they could learn his trade.

The masterclass’ website states that Herzog will “critique select student work”. When asked by one user how much time he’ll actually be able to devote to the class, the director wrote that he is currently working on three half-finished films, and is thus “a working man”.

A surprising detail that emerged is that the visionary director didn’t know that movies existed before he turned 11 years old.

He continued by saying that he wouldn’t be answering students’ question on any old subject.

“I'm not going to answer what my last dream was. My last dream, in fact I hardly ever dream, my last dream was that I had a sandwich for lunch and I'm not going to put that as an appendix to the MasterClass.”

Herzog also left some useful advice for the future.

“Read read read read read!” he stressed, concerned with how much humans are relying on computers and technology nowadays. “People do not read enough, and that's how you create critical thinking, conceptual thinking. You create a way of how to shape your life.”

He also highly recommends exploring the world on foot.

“Traveling on foot has actually given me insight into the world itself. The world reveals itself to one who travel [sic] on foot,” he wrote.

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Germany’s Scheffelbrücke: Everything you need to know about the ‘world’s most expensive bridge’

Germany's Scheffelbrücke might not seem like much to look at, but by some accounts it is the most expensive bridge in the world. Here’s what you need to know.

Germany's Scheffelbrücke: Everything you need to know about the ‘world’s most expensive bridge’
The Scheffelbrücke in Baden-Württemburg isn't known for its astounding beauty or engineering prowess - but it is known for its price tag. Photo: Heinz Seehagel, Creative Commons.

If you’re travelling near the Swiss border, you might come across the Scheffelbrücke – a quiet, two-lane bridge over the Radolfzeller Aach in Baden-Württemburg. 

By bridge standards, the 20-metre concrete construction seems relatively unremarkable – until you take a look at the engraved sign on the side which quotes the price tag. 

A sign on the bridge references the incredible price of the bridge: 1,520,940,901,926,024 Deutschmarks. 

That’s 1,500 trillion marks. 

Why is the Scheffelbrücke Germany’s most expensive bridge – and why is it so drab?

While Germany has the money and the landscape to have some expensive bridges, that over the Aach hardly rivals the Golden Gate, London Bridge or Sydney Harbour for elegance or ingenuity. 

The bridge, completed in 1923, takes the name of Joseph Victor von Scheffel, a German writer who will forever be associated with the glorified concrete slab. 

While one might suspect pork barrelling or crafty accounting as a reason for the astonishing cost – or perhaps a trick to reel in the tourists to the otherwise unassuming village of Singen – the cost is in fact real.

The high price is a consequence of the out of control post-World War One inflation which hit Germany, where money almost completely lost its value. 

A sign for the bridge reveals its extortionate building costs. Photo: Heinz Seehagel, Creative Commons.

Local authorities, wanting to boost the economy, signed off on the bridge as an infrastructure project. 

As a consequence, some local workers presumably became millionaires as a consequence – although there was perhaps little meaning to the idea of being a millionaire when a billion would only buy you a concrete bridge. 

Fortunately, Germany was able to bring inflation under control and wheelbarrows full of money were no longer required to purchase basic things.

And almost a century later, when not taking wacky inflation into account, Germany’s ‘most expensive bridge in the world’ no longer has that title. 

That goes to the Oakland Bay Bridge in San Francisco (no, not the Golden Gate but the other one), which cost 6.3 billion US dollars – or roughly 5.2 billion euro  – to build. 

The Oakland Bay Bridge however goes for eight kilometres and possesses some of the aesthetic qualities which one would expect from the most expensive bridge in the world.