D: Werner Herzog

Filmverlag der Autoren / Pro-ject Filmproduktion / Wildlife Films Peru (Werner Herzog & Lucki Stipetić)

West Germany / Peru 1982

157 mins


W: Werner Herzog

DP: Thomas Mauch

Ed: Beata Mainka-Jellinghaus

Mus: Popol Vuh

Klaus Kinski (Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald), Claudia Cardinale (Molly), Jose Lewgoy (Don Aquillino), Miguel Angel Fuentos (Cholo), Paul Hittscher (Orinoco Paul)

Werner Herzog’s Peruvian adventure, Fitzcarraldo, was a troubled production which saw the original lead (Jason Robards) fall ill to have Klaus Kinski replace him, and the star and director clashed on several occasions to the point that even the natives became restless.

Kinski plays Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald, aka Fitzcarraldo, an Irish entrepreneur in early 20th Century Peru with a desire to bring opera to the location by building a concert hall befitting of it, but first he must make his fortune in the rubber trade, believing he can find an area off the banks of the Amazon fertile with it and carrying his steamship over the mountain to get to it, a feat which was actually undertaken by the film crew whilst shooting.

There’s a lot to take in and the actions of the characters don’t appear to make any sense at all, but that’s the entire point of the movie. Writer-director Werner Herzog wants to bring his art his own way, even if it isn’t the most sensible, cost-effective or productive way to do so.

One thing is for certain, this really is an unforgettable visual experience.