Werner Herzog Explores the Raw Theatrics of Wrestling, Drawing Parallels to Ancient Greek Drama

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Could Vince McMahon’s name one day be held in the same regard as Greek drama writers like Sophocles and Aeschylus? Werner Herzog believes there is a similarity.

Speaking with Conan O’Brien, the famed director spoke about wrestling and recalled watching Vince McMahon’s heel work from 2001. He said,


“I do watch some trash TV, let’s say like WrestleMania. It’s very interesting because it’s a very crude form of drama that has emerged and it’s a drama set not in the fight itself. The fights are interrupted by commercials, meaning they’re not important but the owner of the franchise shows up in the ring [with] his wife, alleged wife, in a wheelchair [as Linda was in 2001] and blind.

“He has three sexy women in his arm and rants against his wife in the wheelchair. All of the sudden, you have a form of drama probably as crude as Ancient Greek drama, which started out in the fifth century before Christ. I watch it for, number one, I think that the poet must not close his eyes, avert his eyes, you have to know which world you’re living.”

Herzog’s directorial work includes Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972), Heart of Glass (1976), Stroszek (1977), and Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979).

In more recent years, Herzog has acted for several popular American shows including The Simpsons, American Dad, Rick and Morty, and Disney+ hit The Mandalorian.

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In a recent interview with Conan O’Brien, renowned director Werner Herzog drew an unexpected comparison between Vince McMahon, the chairman and CEO of WWE, and ancient Greek drama writers like Sophocles and Aeschylus. Herzog expressed his fascination with wrestling and specifically highlighted McMahon’s heel work from 2001.

According to Herzog, wrestling is a unique form of drama that goes beyond the fights themselves. He described it as a “crude form of drama” where the fights are interrupted by commercials, suggesting that they are not the main focus. Instead, the drama unfolds when McMahon, the owner of the franchise, enters the ring with his alleged wife in a wheelchair and three attractive women by his side. He passionately rants against his wife, creating a dramatic spectacle that Herzog compares to Ancient Greek drama.

The director’s perspective on wrestling stems from his belief that a poet, or in this case a filmmaker, should not close their eyes to any aspect of the world they live in. By observing and analyzing wrestling, Herzog finds parallels between this modern form of entertainment and the ancient art of Greek drama.

Werner Herzog is widely recognized for his directorial work in films such as “Aguirre, the Wrath of God,” “Heart of Glass,” “Stroszek,” and “Nosferatu the Vampyre.” However, he has also ventured into acting in recent years, appearing in popular American shows like “The Simpsons,” “American Dad,” “Rick and Morty,” and the Disney+ hit series “The Mandalorian.”

To further explore Herzog’s perspective on wrestling and its dramatic nature, you can watch his interview with Conan O’Brien, where he elaborates on his observations. The video provides an insightful look into the director’s unique perspective and sheds light on the artistic aspects of wrestling.

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In conclusion, Werner Herzog’s comparison of Vince McMahon’s wrestling performances to ancient Greek drama highlights the artistic and dramatic elements present in this form of entertainment. By recognizing the parallels between wrestling and ancient theater, Herzog encourages us to appreciate the complexity and creativity that can be found even in seemingly unconventional forms of storytelling.