DVD - 1999 | German
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Story of a man obsessed with a dream to build his own personal opera house in a remote Peruvian town.
Publisher: Troy, Mich. : Distributed by Anchor Bay Entertainment, c1999.
Characteristics: 1 videodisc (157 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in.


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Dec 17, 2020


Aug 05, 2020

One question cineastes often ask is, What if a new-wave filmmaker somehow got an=enough money to make an epic? Fitzcarraldo is one answer, and it is very interesting. Werner Herzog returned, with the mercurial Klaus Kinsky, to the milieu of his ambition pocket epic, Aguirre, Wrath of God, about a megalomaniac explorer-soldier on the Amazon. This time, the star is another driven man, hardly as sadistic and maniacal, who wants to bring grand opera to the Amazon. Lacking funds, he hits on egregiously wealthy rubber plantation barons, the richest of whom accepts only when Fitzcarraldo concocts a scheme to open a huge stand of rubber trees that has been inaccessible because of hostile indigenes and a huge rapids on the safer river access to it. But the baron forwards only enough to fund a big boat to get to the goal; he also inflicts an engineer-spy (a part-native giant named Cholo) and a gin-swilling Dutch pilot-captain on Fitzcarraldo: both men are excellent at their trades and soon are caught up by Fitzcarraldo's manic dedication, ditto the cook, another swiller. Now, the major hurdles before Fitzcarraldo are the hostile natives and pulling the boat over the hump of an isthmus between two branches of the river so that, having claimed the rubber stand, it can then return to base (Iquitos) the way it arrived (after being pulled in reverse--this part is not shown). Strangely enough, the natives prove friendly and entirely willing to help; they have, of course, their own plans for the boat. This plot is brilliantly realized by Herzog and the sturdy cast, and the dialogue is entirely natural for the characters and the situation. The big set piece is getting the boat over the hump, and in fits and starts, it's a nail-biter. The whole shebang is far more credible than many Hollywood and all the studio-bound epics, and any disappointment one feels stems from the incredibility of Fitzcarraldo's motivation, which Kinski helps and perhaps hinders by behaving less maniacally than he has been cracked up to be--indeed, very naturally for the character. The score is dotted by period recordings of Caruso and other pre-WWI divas and divos, which quite make the composed score by Popol Vuh, Herzog's go-to musicians for most of his early films. Spectacular but oddly humane. --Ray Olson

Nov 05, 2017

need more copies

Aug 04, 2016

One of Herzog's films from early in his career- this is a good film though perhaps it is overshadowed by Les Blank's documentary about the making of the film " Burden of Dreams "- one the best making of documentaries ever made.

Aug 04, 2016

Werner Herzog and his nemesis Klaus Kinski return to "Wrath of God" country in this tale of man vs. nature, but this time around Kinski trades in Aguirre’s bloodthirsty megalomania for an obsessive, just slightly unhinged, romanticism. Notorious for its production problems—Kinski was a raging lunatic, the elements refused to cooperate, and there were deaths, disabilities, and disease—Herzog’s film is a surprisingly lucid, at time pastoral, rumination on man’s eternal struggle, the power of art, and the legacy of colonialism (ironic considering how he exploited his small army of Indian extras). A by-the-numbers plot is lifted into the surreal by a series of striking tableaux: Caruso blares from an onboard gramophone as native drumming answers from the surrounding jungle; a ragtag flotilla of rickety motorboats transport an opera company across the Amazon—with costumes and props on full display; and straining natives haul Fitzcarraldo’s multi-ton steamboat through the forest (no special effects used, just an unseen bulldozer). Unfortunately dubbed and in need of a good editing, this is still a charming Quixotic tale of one man who set out to tame the wilderness with Strauss and Wagner only to return full circle to where he began only wiser if not exactly richer.

Feb 06, 2016

Herzog in his element - nature and obsession.

I look forward to watching the documentary that Herzog made about the making of this film - Burden of Dreams.

Feb 08, 2015

Fitzcarraldo is an epic film, sweeping and grand in every sense. It is bold, ambitious, and its execution is astonishing.

This is a beautiful film that deserves a look not only for its technical achievements, but also for its meditations on ego, obsession, and the tyranny of will.

Sep 18, 2014

I couldn't get past the first 15 min. I found Klaus K. too ridiculous to look at. I just can't explain it.

May 20, 2014

I expected more from this movie. Overall this movie is very slow at times and uninteresting. The journey up the jungle river was nothing spectacular (I was hoping for an Apocalypse Now type feeling) but the moving of the steamship over the mountain was interesting. I did enjoy the final bit with the natives using the steamship to appease the gods to be quite good. Give this movie a pass or be prepared to fast forward lots.

May 22, 2013

If you are interested we will be discussing this movie at the Carlingwood Library Film Club on July 9/13 at 7:00 pm. See you there

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Aug 07, 2012

Ron@Ottawa thinks this title is suitable for All Ages


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