Kanye West’s video for “Famous” has done what any good piece of socio-political art is capable of: creating discussion and debate. Many have found it controversial for its nude portrayals of celebrities like Taylor Swift, Caitlyn Jenner, Donald Trump, and Bill Cosby. Others have seen it as an interesting examination of tabloid culture and the concept of identity in the 21st century. You can now include influential German director Werner Herzog in that latter group.
Herzog recently sat down with The Daily Beast and was asked for his opinion of the “Famous” video. “I have never seen anything like this,” was the legendary filmmaker’s first response. In the video above, you can hear him laud “Famous” for all its deeper cultural commentary and artistic value. “… 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,” Herzog says. “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.”
“There’s all of a sudden a guy out there in the world of rappers who is doing something that I’ve always tried to get across to people who want to make movies,” Herzog continues to praise. “I try to explain to them that there’s not just a story that you are telling and you are concocting some sort of relationship between people. … I try to embed, to implant moments where time doesn’t matter anymore. There’s a standstill, there’s only breathing.”
“The fact that there’s just breathing and imagining is wonderful about it.” Watch Herzog’s dissection above, and the full “Famous” video below.