Documentary Site started as an outlet for my interests in documentary 15 years ago. Since then, my presence has expanded to writing, managing Twitter fans, and connecting with makers, promoters, and fans of documentary. Probably three of the coolest things to come from this endeavor are being invited to write for POV, visiting Kartemquin studios, and leading a discussion after a screening of The Trials of Muhammad Ali. My current project involves watching and writing about 365 documentaries in 2014. Feel free to send along your suggestions via Twitter @documentarysite!

#365Docs: Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe (81/365)

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I’m watching 365 documentaries and writing about each one in 2014. Tweet your suggestions to @documentarysite, or send an e-mail to Read more.

Note: This post may contain spoilers.

Warner Herzog Eats His Shoe (1980) is a fun documentary short directed by Les Blank. In this short Herzog makes good on a promise that he made to Errol Morris to eat his shoe if Morris ever finished his film. Morris completed Gates of Heaven, and Herzog dined on shoe leather at its screening.

In what seems typical, Herzog goes the distance in preparing his shoes and consuming them. He stuffs them with onion, garlic, and parsley, and adds them to a large vat and lets them cook for several hours. He even seasons them with hot sauce, and discusses with a chef what to serve along with them.

At the screening, Herzog feasts on his shoes while taking questions from the audience. Blank intercuts scenes from a Charlie Chaplin film with two people also eating their shoes, and throughout he includes a jaunty polka song about old whiskey shoes on the soundtrack.

While the overall tone is light in this short, some serious observations about film and about Morris do come from Herzog. He sees the shoe-eating as a form of encouragement to Morris and as a means to bolster the film’s publicity with the hopes of getting a major to pick it up.

On Gates of Heaven, Herzog comments, “It’s a film of a very mature filmmaker, and I like it very much.” On the value of film the society, he says, “Films might change our perspective of things.” Then he follows with, “But there’s a lot of absurdity as well,” just as this short shows.

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Heather McIntosh
Heather McIntosh
Heather McIntosh started Documentary Site as a resource for documentary media and has greatly enjoyed the connections it has fostered over the years.