Fitzcarraldo (1982 Special Edition)
Werner Herzog won best director at the 1982 Cannes Film Festival for this film with cinematography by Thomas Mauch and music by Popol Vuh. The film might have been one of the most difficult films in history to finish, aside from Terry Gilliam’s doomed film, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote.
Jason Robards was originally cast to play the lead, Fitzcarraldo, however, nearly halfway through shooting became too ill to continue. Proceeding, the entire film had to be reshot and Mick Jagger, who had been cast as the main character’s sidekick, also had to leave the production to tour with the Stones.
The final version stars Klaus Kinski minus sidekick and tells the story of Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald, an Irish entrepreneur that embarks upon an adventure of Odyssean proportions to build an opera house in the Amazon jungle. The film is very loosely based on the real story of a Peruvian rubber baron named Carlos Fermin Fitzcarrald.
It is however, the reality behind the film that is arguably more outlandish than the premise of the film itself. A 340-ton steam ship is actually hauled over a mountain in the middle of the jungle with the assistance of the local natives, no camera tricks involved. Additionally, one member of the cast who was bitten by an extremely venomous snake decided to cut his own foot off with a chainsaw to avoid going into cardiac arrest. Finally, Kinski, a notoriously difficult actor to work with, would rage into such fits that one of the native chiefs offered to murder him. Nevertheless, Herzog maintains the production was never out of hand.
Of further interest, Burden of Dreams directed by Les Blankis the documentary on the making of Fitzcarraldo, and Herzog’s own documentary My Best Friend deals with his relationship with Kinski.
- Story A-
- Acting A-
- Visuals A-
- Originality/Innovation A
- Enjoyability A-
- Overall A-
- DVD Extras B+