The UC Theatre is a building filled with an immense amount of history, yet while many of you may know that a legendary movie theater once occupied these halls, you may not know about all of the crazy stories that go along with its history – for example, in 1979, Werner Herzog did eat his shoe here.
Yes, one of his shoes; in other words, the things you typically wear on your feet. Don’t believe us? Watch the documentary Les Blank made about the event in 1980 (appropriately titled Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe). A little bit of much needed context…
Who is Werner Herzog? Werner Herzog was a prominent figure in the New German Cinema Movement. He was big in the film industry – a director, screenwriter, author, actor, opera director; he could do it all.
Why exactly did he eat his shoe? Herzog said he would eat his shoe is Errol Morris ever finished the film Gates of Heaven, and needless to say, he kept his word.
Did this really happen here, at The UC Theatre? Yes.
Did he survive? Herzog is still alive to this day, seemingly unscarred, 74 years young and still going strong.
So, in April 1979, Herzog cooked his shoes (the same ones he’d claimed to be wearing when he made the bet) at local landmark Chez Panisse with the help of Berkeley legend Alice Waters. It’s said that the shoes were boiled with garlic, herbs, and a stock of some sort.
After they were properly prepared, Herzog went on stage at The UC Theatre before the audience of Gates of Heaven’s premiere and ate his gourmet boots. It’s said that while he did eat his shoe, Herzog left the sole, claiming that he could do so as, “one does not eat the bones of the chicken.”
Here’s a brief clip of the completed film (no shoe-eating involved):