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Burden of Dreams (The Criterion Collection)

4.4 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

For nearly five years, acclaimed German filmmaker Werner Herzog desperately tried to complete the most ambitious and difficult film of his career-Fitzcarraldo, the story of one man's attempt to build an opera house deep in the Amazon jungle. Documentary filmmaker Les Blank captured the unfolding of this production, made all the more perilous by Herzog's determination to shoot the most daunting scenes without models or special effects, including a sequence requiring hundreds of natives to pull a full-sized, 320-ton steamship over a small mountain. The result is an extraordinary document of the filmmaking process and a unique look into the single-minded passion of one of cinema#s most fearless directors.

Special Features

  • Audio commentary by director Les Blank, editor and sound recordist Maureen Gosling, and Werner Herzog
  • Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe (1980), an early short documentary by Les Blank
  • New video interview with Herzog
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Gallery of set and location photos by Maureen Gosling
  • A book featuring excerpts from Les Blank & Maureen Gosling's journal entries on the set of Fitzcarraldo
  • Theatrical Trailer

Product Details

  • Actors: Klaus Kinski, Werner Herzog, Miguel Angel Fuentes, Father Mariano Gagnon, José Lewgoy
  • Directors: Les Blank, Maureen Gosling
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: May 10, 2005
  • Run Time: 95 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0007WFYB6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #79,116 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Burden of Dreams (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
First, Anchor Bay gave rain to our parched Herzog-loving throats with the release of many of the eccentric German maestro's greatest feature films. And now, Criterion offers Les Blank's astonishingly beautiful and gloriously weird documentary on the desperate creation of one of those classic titles, Fitzcarraldo. A production that started off starring Jason Robards and Mick Jagger wound up with the director threatening to murder star Klaus Kinski if he walked off set! See Herzog obsessively orchestrating the movement of an entire steamboat over a treacherous mountain in Peru! No special effects for this master.

"Without dreams we would be cows in a field, and I don't want to live like that. I live my life or I end my life with this project." If every filmmaker thought this way, do you think we'd have to sit thru Son of the Mask?

As a five-star added bonus, we get "Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe," a brilliant short doc by Blank which chronicles Herzog actually cooking and devouring his boot after promising Errol Morris to do so if Gates of Heaven was ever completed! Herzog also uses the opportunity to declare war on American television!

God bless Criterion - here's hoping they follow up this exciting release with some unavailable Herzog docs like La Souffiere, Dark Glow of the Mountain, or Wings of Hope, and some other Les Blank rarities like Garlic is as Good as Ten Mothers and In Heaven There is No Beer...
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Prior to viewing "Burden of Dreams" I had this preconceived notion that this film was akin to "Hearts of Darkness", the documentary about the making of "Apocalypse Now" where the megalomaniacal director slowly goes mad after countless delays and on-set disasters. To the contrary, director Werner Herzog comes off as a rational artist who, despite the setbacks he encountered during the making of "Fitzcarraldo", soldiers on to see his vision come to fruition. Documentarian Les Blank gives a full-bodied account of the elements that Herzog had to contend with from the volatile nature of the film's setting in the Amazon to dealing with the indiginous tribes who were crucial to the film. Blank meticulously documents the production from it's shaky beginnings to it's end. You get the feeling that Herzog had probably entered this project with great enthusiasm but was relieved some five years later to be done with it. I haven't seen "Fitzcarraldo" in a number of years and it had slight resonance to me. You be the judge as to whether all the energy and resources expended in this endeavor was worth it. Not to be missed, Criterion includes a short subject from Blank, "Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe" which demonstrates Herzog's integrity in keeping a bet with budding filmmaker Errol Morris. There is also a recent interview included with Herzog where he gives his account of events during the making of "Fitzcarraldo" but is at pains not to denigrate Blank's document.
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Format: DVD
Les Blank's documentary is much more than just a making of Werner Herzog's FITZCARRALDO, which is what makes it important and interesting. Like Herzog's own documentaries which blur the boundaries between fact and fiction Burden of Dreams often slips into the realm of a feverish fantasy world. A world in which sanity is far less important than fulfilling dreams and which death and danger are accepted bedfellows. Often FITZCARRALDO becomes immaterial as Blank eye for local detail picks out strange images or centres on exotic looking birds or insects. It exists in a continuum of its own, precariously balanced within the bizarre politics that surrounded FITZCARRALDO'S production and also outside of this melting pot. In many ways it has outlived the film it is chronicling and instead of gratuitous shots of Klaus Kinksi raving we have shots of local customs and portentous doom laden interviews with Herzog. The film is secondary to Herzog, who comes across as driven and perhaps a little insane, affected by paranoia, he sees the jungle and creation itself as an enemy, something to be feared and loathed. He has become the apotheosis of his own movie world and myth making process, the marginalized loner, the outsider.

Unfortunately amid the excitement, we really only get Herzog's side of events and the documentary seems unduly biased in this direction. Nobody else is interviewed, which makes the film seem a little unbalanced. Despite this bias in Herzog's direction he still emerged from FITZCARRALDO and BURDEN OF DREAMS with his reputation in tatters. This is an outstanding piece of work, which shows the film-making process at its most extreme edges.

Criterion's DVD is one of their best. A superb 40 minute interview with Werner Herzog is the sets highlight, but also of note is Blank's brief documentary WERNER HERZOG EATS HIS SHOE, to have this included is a precious bonus
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Format: DVD
"Burden of Dreams" is an electrifying documentary about the making of Fitzcarraldo. Like the fictional character Fitzcarraldo who is driven to open an opera house in the Amazon rainforest, so is director Werner Herzog driven to make an epic in the rainforest. He faces tribal feuds, Jason Robards bowing out due to illness, and Mick Jagger leaving to make the album Tattoo You (Reis). Production is constantly delayed... and there's the matter of getting a steamer over a mountain.

"Burden of Dreams" takes you into the forests of Herzog's psyche. He feels a deep kinship with Nature and the natives. Unlike James Cameron in the "save the rainforest" Avatar, Herzog doesn't romanticize Nature. He goes into stream of consciousness over "fornication, obscenity, killing"--a very gloomy Teutonic sense. He has an immense amount of passion over his production. Production starts in 1979--and the whole movie production goes way over the usual allotted time. Watching the documentary, one is amazed that "Fitzcarraldo" made it to the screen at all. It's almost like a doomed Terry Gilliam production.

"Burden of Dreams" is a perfect companion to Herzog's other great movies--such as Grizzly Man,about Timothy Treadwell, who died in the Alaskan wilderness, or the mad Aguirre, the Wrath of God, again set in the rainforest, also starring Klaus Kinski. "Burdens of Dreams" shows that in the dream factory of the movies, there are sometimes haunting nightmares.
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