German filmmaker Werner Herzog has never done anything by halves. When Herzog tackled Fitzcarraldo, the story of an obsessed impresario (Klaus Kinski) whose foremost desire in life is to bring both Enrico Caruso and an opera house to the deepest jungles of South America, the director boldly embarked on the same journey, disdaining studios, process shots, and special effects throughout. The highlight of the story is Fizcarraldo’s Herculean effort to haul a 300-plus ton steamship over the mountains. No trickery was used in filming this grueling sequence, and stories still persist of disgruntled South American film technicians awaiting the opportunity to strangle Herzog if he ever sets foot on their land again. In the end, Herzog proved to be as driven and single-purposed as his protagonist, and it is the audience’s knowledge of this that adds to the excitement of Fitzcarraldo.
Cannes Film Festival 1982 | Winner: Best Director
“The irony of Herzog’s cinematic vision is inescapable given the film’s inspiration. He’s certainly not ignorant to the legacy of exploitation in this region, so why does he so casually disregard the native population and the natural beauty of the Amazon? Herzog even referred to himself as the “Conquistador of the Useless” in reference to the film. Despite its warts, I still find Kinski endlessly fascinating.” – Zac Weber, Mubi
“It’s a stunning spectacle, an adventure-comedy not quite like any other, and the most benign movie ever made about 19th-century capitalism running amok.” Vincent Camby, NY Times
- 4/1 | 7:00PM