2012-03-14

Fitzcarraldo

Fitzcarraldo (Werner Herzog, 1982)

There is a popular admiration towards Fitzcarraldo in the world of film buffs, the film itself and the making of the film is almost unbelievable. Let's get to it already, the major aspect of the story and the real challenge for Herzog and his crew was to shoot in the Amazonian jungle for the second time, first time was in 1971 for Aguirre the Wrath of God, and to take a steamboat and to pull it over a mountain with indigenous and only human strength and will. Add to that the maniacal persona of Klaus Kinski one of the most gifted actor of all-time that only his own insanity was his worst self destructive enemy. Wait, there's more, let's say that Werner Herzog made some of the most epic films of their time and their director-actor relationship was one of the most intense and challenging. They almost killed each other and each had a bad temper and their clashes were insane. In a documentary Herzog directed later about Kinski he admitted that the natives offered to murder Kinski because of his hot-temper.

The shooting of a Herzog-Kinski picture was something physically and psychologycally engaging for the entire crew that worked with them. Of the five films they did together, Fitzcarraldo might be one of the most insane in its making. With the whole steamboat pulled over a mountain and after, the audacious descent into river rapids where the boat could have been crushed on rocks at any moment during the shooting. The filmmakers had no idea how it could have ended and the shooting of the film often shadows the film itself. As both are tight together it is almost impossible to actually review Fitzcarraldo without mentionning all the elements that happened during its production.

All this excessiveness is translated into the film itself and its main character portrayed by Klaus Kinski "Fitzcarraldo". It is also the achievement of the dream of a passionate about his art and the transmission of this passion that can transcends mountains and impossible obstacles. This is a strong story on how crazy you have to be to attain your goals as impossible as they might be. As the character and the film this is a real success. But it is never without struggles and problems. Like Jonathan Rosenbaum said about Herzog's work, he mixes artistry and insanity so much that sometimes it is almost impossible to discern which is which.

Even if it is far from being Herzog's masterpiece, Fitzcarraldo is one of his most challenging and depth films. This 1982 picture from the infamous German director most have been seen to be believed.

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