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Hear Werner Herzog Give Kanye West's 'Famous' Video A Positive Critique
Filmmaker Werner Herzog weighs in on Kanye West's video for "Famous" with reporter Jen Yamato of The Daily Beast, saying he'd "never seen anything like this," and that if West were to apply to his film school with this particular video, he'd definitely admit him.
If you haven't seen the video, it features several celebrities—some wax figures, some perhaps real—sprawled in a very large bed together, as though they are all taking a nap after an orgy or, at the very least, a long game of strip poker in which everyone lost. The celebrities depicted are: George W. Bush, Anna Wintour, Donald Trump, Rihanna, Chris Brown, Taylor Swift, Ray J, Amber Rose, Caitlyn Jenner, Bill Cosby, Kim Kardashian West and Kanye himself. A large portion of the video consists of a camera meandering over the bodies while the sound of deep, peaceful breathing can be heard.
Herzog seems to quite like the film, and can heard discussing its merits as the video plays.
The most interesting thing for me as a storyteller is...in a movie, yes, you do have a story, and you develop a story, but at the same time you have to be very careful and think about and organize a parallel story—a separate, independent story that only occurs in the collective mind of the audience. And when you hear the rap, which is very well done, all of a sudden it gives you more time than anything else just to reflect on it. And this video gives you space for creating your separate parallel story. And you keep thinking, are these people for real? Are they doppelgängers? And what could be the story of them? What are they doing? How have they partied? What brought them together? So all of a sudden, the rapper gives me the chance to completely go wild on my own story, on the collective audience that he has out there. It’s very, very interesting. I don't need to think about it and say much about it, I'm just giving you the impression that I see something very wild here, which is essential in real deep storytelling.
Oddly enough, Herzog could not immediately remember Bill Cosby's name, but did remember he was "the entertainer accused of sexual misconduct with women." Cosby is seen on the far right of the bed, next to Jenner. All in all, Herzog says West's video shows that "the Internet can be well beyond 60-second cat videos...although I like them as well."
Not everyone praised West's video. Lena Dunham said it made her feel "sad and unsafe" to see the "prone, unconscious, waxy bodies of famous women, twisted like they've been drugged and chucked aside at a rager." Stephen Colbert, on the other hand, elected to insert himself into the video.