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'Fitzcarraldo' DVD Review **** 071805
The Work = ****
There is not a false note in his work here and he proves to be the perfect compliment to Werner Herzog’s direction. Take the scene where he brings his gramophone to a socialite party so he can play opera for the rich attendees. Watch his face and his body language as he plays the music. He wants so dearly for the social elite to understand his love of the music and his visions of bringing opera to the middle of the jungle.
That is more or less what the film is about, a man pursuing his visions. He has faltered before. His attempts to make a railroad through the jungle resulted in tracks barley leaving the station, and now the titled character Fitzcarraldo wants to bring opera to the jungle. The man loves his music. He is so convincing he is able to talk his way into an opera.
It is his conviction that allows him to slowly get the funding for his scheme. His plan is to take a steam boat down river in the middle of the jungle. Then at a point in the river he will drag the giant steam ship through the jungle, over a mountain, and into a parallel river. Here’s where things get interesting. Fitzcarraldo gets his funding and makes his way down river where the natives bang their drums in hiding in the jungle.
Many have been killed by the natives when they entered their home turf. Fitzcarraldo’s response? He plays opera as loud as he can on his gramophone in response to the drums. The drums are temporarily silenced. Then the locals blockade the river with trees, board the ship, and wonder if Fitzcarraldo may be a god. Seeing an opportunity he uses the local’s hesitant worship to his advantage and he enlists them to clear jungle and drag the boat over the mountain using an elaborate set of ropes and pulleys.
'Fitzcarraldo', the movie, is often listed as one of the greatest movies ever made and one reason for that is the shear spectacle of the boat going over the mountain. Filmmaker Werner Herzog had a real boat dragged over the mountain and the footage of the boat creaking up the mountain and back down is a sight to see. Now, I am going to say something that will sound like blasphemy to many cineastes. I love the movie and I love Herzog but I think the movie is a little long.
It takes awhile to get going but once it does is thoroughly engaging. It is just the slow lead in to the boat climbing the mountain takes a long time. Still the fault is probably with me; itching to see the footage of the boat ascending.
'Fitzcarraldo' is a must see for all its spectacle and the wonderful performance of Kinski. As much trouble as it seems he was, the man could act when he was put to task. I find Fitzcarraldo to be a great film but a little long. That may just be me though.
DVD = ****
They talk about some of the adventures that occurred during filming and some of the quirks of working with Kinski. Herzog attempts to tone down his image as a crazed filmmaker and insists some of the onscreen events were not as dangerous as they appear to have been. The only real shame is that this DVD really could have done with inclusion of 'Burden of Dreams'. (Thankfully that film has been released on DVD by Criterion.)
All together = ****
Review of 'My Best Friend' (A documentary made by Herzog on his friendship and work with Kinski.)
Review of 'Incident at Loch Ness' (A fun movie for fans of Herzog, that he stars in.)
Copyright 2005 - 2012 Nate Bundy. All rights reserved.