Last night, Stephen Colbert hosted Werner Herzog in an interview segment on The Colbert Report intended to promote the new film Cave of Forgotten Dreams. Mr. Herzog did that, certainly, explaining among other things, the artistry of the early humans who created the art that is still to be found in the caves. He said, for example, “They created ivory statuettes, Venus statuettes, way beyond Baywatch, by the way, with breasts like…” and then went on to talk about how the same people also invented God. Good stuff? You bet.

But, more important, Werner Herzog was also asked about his tendency to make stuff up in his documentaries, or to ‘intensify’ the truth. He is interested in, as he has said in other interviews, an “ecstatic truth” that is different from “accountant’s truth.” He begins talking about this by discussing the albino mutant alligators he created for Cave of Forgotten Dreams, and then goes into a spectacular rambling explanation of how he finds his own way to approach a documentary. Check the video after the break.

The albino crocodiles appear at the end of Cave of Forgotten Dreams, and the idea is that these supposed mutant animals relate to the cave dwellers discussed in the rest of the film. It is material that is obviously cooked up by Herzog, but why would he do such a thing? If the film itself didn’t make the reason clear, perhaps this interview will do the trick.

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