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Thread: Fitzcarraldo and its companion documentary Burden of Dreams

  1. #1
    Finestkind underthecity's Avatar
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    Feb 2005
    Near Cincinnati

    Fitzcarraldo and its companion documentary Burden of Dreams

    Has anyone ever seen either of these movies?

    I rented Fitzcarraldo in 1993 and watched it over the course of a slow afternoon. It's a really long movie, but it made a big impression on me.

    In case you haven't seen it, Fitzcarraldo is a German film (I remember English subtitles, unless I'm misremembering) directed by Werner Herzog about a man, played by Klaus Kinski, who is obsessed about building an opera house in the jungles of Peru. The highlight is when he hires a tribe of local natives to drag his steamboat up over a hill, then down a hill to connect with another river.

    It's a fascinating movie to watch.

    And an amazing example of guerilla filmmaking.

    The companion documentary, Burden of Dreams, was shot along with this movie. Herzog believed in complete accuracy and actually steamed a ship over a thousand miles down the river through the jungle, then hired the local natives to help with the production (and act as local natives), clear the hill, and drive a bulldozer to drag the ship over the hill.

    It's an interesting documentary to watch because of the amazing amount of trouble Herzog's company went through to make the film. It went months over schedule, partly because of weather and some tribal conflicts, with equipment breaking down, crew getting sick, etc.

    Also interesting to note that while Klaus Kinski is the star of Fitzcarraldo, he is seen in Burden of Dreams as a member of the crew, having to put up and deal with all the same ordeals as everyone else. We see him acting in a few of his scenes, but the movie doesn't revolve around him.

    They made this movie in 1982, and Mick Jagger was originally cast as Fitzcarraldo's assistant. But he had to drop out because of a tour with the Rolling Stones. All his scenes were cut, but he does appear briefly in the documentary.

    Both are fascinating movies to watch.

    Anyone ever seen them?

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  2. #2
    Your thoughts are not real... mario_c's Avatar
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    Apr 2008
    The movie is visually fantastic, and Burden Of Dreams is great too. I think the story of Kinski and Herzog's working relationship is fascinating, as much as if not more than the five films they made together. (In the interest of fairness, I have watched and enjoyed all five. Their Nosferatu is a favorite and a remake that really does not suck. ) They fought terribly - at one point while shooting Aguirre, The Wrath Of God Herzog threatened Kinski with a gun when he threatened to walk off the set!* But they had a powerful creative chemistry that worked. Kinski's temper is shown briefly in BOD, but his passion and perfectionism is evident too.

    *Herzog directed Christian Bale in "Rescue Dawn". No on location tantrums there, that I know of.
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