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The tortured production history of Werner Herzog's Fitzcarraldo (ably recorded in Les Blank's documentary Burden of Dreams) tends to take the spotlight away from this deeply mesmerizing film. And that's unfortunate, because the film itself is even more fascinating than the trials and tribulations, amazing though they might be, that led to its being made. Part of the problem is the film's deliberate, some might say ponderous, pace, which invites the viewer to experience the slow immersion into the jungle that Fitzcarraldo and company experience. Herzog did something similar in Aguirre, the Wrath of God, sometimes aiming his camera at the river rapids for extended periods of time, with hypnotic results. This could never happen in a Hollywood film, and it should be treasured. --Jim Gay
- German Theatrical Trailer
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Klaus Kinski plays Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald, called Fitzcarraldo by the natives in his home base of Iquitos, Peru. Fitzcarraldo is one of those archetype figures present wherever big money rears its head, the eternal dreamer who cannot quite pull of an idea. In this case, the locale is the rich rubber producing regions in Peru and Brazil in the early part of the twentieth century. When Enrico Caruso performs in Manaus, yet another grand plan strikes Fitzcarraldo's fancy. He will build an opera house in Iquitos and have the famous Caruso perform on opening night. There is only one problem with this scheme: he isn't rich and must rely on wealthy rubber barons to foot the bill, which they are unwilling to do.Read more ›
Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald (called "Fitzcarraldo" by the natives) was a real guy, who really loved opera, and really did drag a ship over a piece of land to get it from one part of a South American river to another. He did it to bring opera to middle of the jungle. That's history. What drove this guy to do such a frankly outrageous thing in the name of art? What kind of fever siezes a visionary and brings him to the brink of insanity to attempt such a thing? That's the stuff of drama. Herzog knows the difference, and his choices in bringing the story to the screen were flawless.
Fitzcarraldo, like all of Herzong's films (even Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht), uses the theme of cultural clash as a macrocosm of the conflicted human mind. So what if the real boat was much smaller than the one in the film? Who cares if the real act of dragging it across land - though arduous - was not nearly so grand as the film depicts? The resultant images are what count, and they would not have the stunning effect Herzog pulls off in this film were it more "historically accurate".
All film directors do things for effect. What separates the good ones from the great is their reason. The once-great Frances Ford Coppola seems to be aiming for empty aesthetics with his last few films; Herzog wants nothing less than to illuminate the soul. It's a grand, quixotic goal; prone to failure - much like dragging a boat through the jungle. But he seems to pull it off time and time again. You remember the images, yes - they're hard to forget.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An unusual movie about an unusual man played with the flair that only Klaus Kinski can provide. The first time I saw this movie, I wanted to see it again just to comprehend what I... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Lacretia C. Ballance
I originally thought this was a true story. While in the jungle city of Iquitos, Peru, we found many links to the drive to build an opera house in that city. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Allen
Years ago, I read a review of this film and vowed that I would one day find and watch it. At last, I found it! And what a film. It's amazing!Published 20 months ago by Frank Towsey
This movie deserves far more acclaim than it has garnered so far. The plot is unusual and excellent.Published 20 months ago by David E. Crownover
Keats wrote many Odes, but he didn't write an "Ode to Extravagance," so Werner Herzog wrote one instead, filmed it, and called it "Fitzcarraldo. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Stanley Crowe
I thought this was a CD but it is a video cassette for $30. It arrived quickly. Fortunately we have a cassette player and can view it. Read morePublished on January 30, 2014 by Suzanne
If you think it is hard to build a new business....
Fantastic gem of a movie, one of the wery best!