In the 1950s, an adolescent Werner Herzog was transfixed by a film performance of the young Klaus Kinski. Years later, they would share an apartment where, in an unabated, forty-eight-hour ... See full summary »
The feared bandit Cobra Verde (Klaus Kinski) is hired by a plantation owner to supervise his slaves. After the owner suspects Cobra Verde of consorting with his young daughters, the owner ... See full summary »
A documentary on the chaotic production of Werner Herzog's epic Fitzcarraldo (1982), showing how the film managed to get made despite problems that would have floored a less obsessively ... See full summary »
Herzog's film is based upon the true and mysterious story of Kaspar Hauser, a young man who suddenly appeared in Nuremberg in 1828, barely able to speak or walk, and bearing a strange note;... See full summary »
Fitzcarraldo is an obsessed opera lover who wants to build an opera in the jungle. To accomplish this he first has to make a fortune in the rubber business, and his cunning plan involves hauling an enormous river boat across a small mountain with aid from the local Indians. Written by
Rune Sandnes <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Whom the gods would destroy they first make mad...
This is a work of fiction, although the idea for the story and the name came from a real person who actually lived at Iquitos, Peru, and who was a rubber (not robber) baron in the eighteen-nineties.
Arguably, Klaus Kinski (as Fitzcarraldo) was born to play the main role although Werner Herzog considered taking up the role himself. But, no one can play an eccentric the way Kinski did in this film. It's not Nosferatu (1979), but the wide, staring eyes are looking at you, all the time, in the same spooky way.
And, only an eccentric of the most magnificent kind would dare to take a 340-ton ship up the Amazon and carry it over a mountain down to another river! Isn't that just one of the craziest things you've ever heard of? Well, the truth is Herzog actually did do that and simply used Kinski as his surrogate to prance around the mud and clay, with the local Indians, and generally taking the praise for a job well done. There were no special effects the production team actually pushed and pulled that hulk up a slope of hundreds of meters and then down to another river.
So, who was really crazy: Herzog or Fitzcarraldo?
Never mind that: just see this movie for the lush, primeval jungles of South America; for the rich tones of various opera singers, including Caruso (on a phonograph); for the stunning photography aboard the ill-fated Molly; for the antics of Kinski, as he thrashes around, pushing himself and others to the limits; for the army of local Indians, pulling the ship over the mountain; for the haunting sound-track provided by Popul Vuh, Herzog's perennial musical team of choice; and, of course, for the lovely Claudia Cardinale past her prime but still remarkable...
I love this movie and I hope you do also. And, when you have seen it, then see Burden of Dreams (1982), the film that tells the story of the making of Fitzcarraldo. It's maybe better than the fiction...
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