There’s been a lot of discussion these past few weeks over what is and isn’t cinema. Legendary documentarian and film director Werner Herzog through his incredibly German hat into the ring to declare that Star Wars is firmly on the cinema side of the equation.
At least, that’s how Herzog feels about the new Disney Plus series The Mandalorian, in particular the series creator and showrunner Jon Favreau. Favreau, of course, is the man most directly responsible for the style and tone of the Marvel Cinematic Universe thanks to his work on the original Iron Man, and now he’s turned his considerable talents to the Star Wars universe. And Herzog is delighted to be involved.
“I enjoyed every single moment of it,” Herzog said during an onstage panel at a screening of The Mandalorian at the El Capitan theater in Hollywood. “And I think it’s beyond what we are seeing on the screen. It’s cinema back at its best. On the big fantasy films, actors were acting almost like robots in front of green screens, you didn’t see the world that you were inhabiting.” That wasn’t the case on The Mandalorian, Herzog said. “Here the actors see the entire universe in which they are operating and the camera does the same. The camera sees it as well so cinema is back to its very life, where it had been. And it becomes very, very Iivey it’s not robotic. It’s got very, very intense life in it.”
Herzog also revealed a little bit about how he came to agree to star in the series, one of the director’s rare appearances as an actor. “When you invited me, I knew in less than 60 seconds that this was going to be big,” he said. “When Jon described a little bit about the character — yes, it’s a dark, dark sort of figure that shouldn’t be trusted at all — I knew it was going to be easy.” Herzog is clearly aware of his reputation as an almost adorably bleak social commentator, which has made him the subject of countless memes, and he seems to enjoy having fun with it (look no further than his particularly memorable cameo in Season 2 of Rick and Morty).
Herzog’s praise comes at a time when veteran filmmakers like Martin Scorsese are calling into question the artistic merit of blockbuster franchises like Marvel and Star Wars, and the potential damage being done to the industry as a result. But Herzog was only too happy to heap praise onto the experience of working with Favreau on a live-action Star Wars series. “It sounds like science fiction but it is way beyond that because what you’re creating goes beyond that — what you’re creating is an entire universe,” he said.. “And this universe is filled with new mythology. Not very often in cultural history have we had new mythologies. We had it with ancient Greek mythology, we had it in antiquity, but very rarely…and it’s also a world filled of fantasy, full of fever dreams, full of new characters you never expected so it’s a wonderful possibility for filmmaking.”
Maybe this means we’ll see a Star Wars movie directed by Werner Herzog? Man, could you imagine? Until that day, you can see Herzog on The Mandalorian, which is currently streaming on Disney Plus. For more on Disney Plus, check out our review of The Mandalorian, theories on how the titular character could possibly be Boba Fett, and our roundup of the best movies currently available on the streaming platform.