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Dailiness No. 2 – Werner Herzog

Letters & Essays

Dailiness No. 2: Werner Herzog

In late November 1974, filmmaker Werner Herzog received a phone call from Paris delivering terrible news. German film historian, mentor, and close friend Lotte Eisner was seriously ill and dying. Herzog was determined to prevent her death and believed that an act of walking would keep Eisner alive. He took a jacket, a compass, and a duffel bag of the barest essentials and, wearing a pair of new boots, set off on a three-week pilgrimage from Munich to Paris through the deep chill and snowstorms of winter.

Of Walking in Ice is Herzog’s beautifully written, much-admired yet often overlooked diary account of that journey. He documents everything he saw and felt on his quest to his friend’s bedside, from poetic descriptions of the frozen landscape and harsh weather conditions to the necessity of finding shelter in vacant or abandoned houses and the intense loneliness of his solo excursion.

Herzog’s diary catalogues his existential journey through a hostile winter landscape, one of the great modern pilgrimages—a record of physical suffering, of hallucination and ecstatic revelation, of portents and animals, of the wreckage of history and myth. Of Walking in Ice has the eerie power of the best fairytales. It hits you with the force of dreams and leaves you with the taste of snow-filled air.