A documentary on the chaotic production of 'Werner Herzog''s epic Fitzcarraldo (1982), showing how the film managed to get made despite problems that would have floored a less obsessively ... See full summary »
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A documentary on the chaotic production of 'Werner Herzog''s epic Fitzcarraldo (1982), showing how the film managed to get made despite problems that would have floored a less obsessively driven director. Not only does he have major casting problems, losing both Jason Robards (health) and Mick Jagger (other commitments) halfway through shooting, but the crew gets caught up in a war between Peru and Ecuador, there are problems with the weather and the morale of cast and crew is falling rapidly. Written by
Michael Brooke <email@example.com>
Herzog is stranded in the jungle with a 300 ton steam ship that won't move and time is running out. He needs money to move the ship but no one would invest unless the ship moves first.
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"Fitzcarraldo" is to my measure a special film, meaning that it evokes in me a profound and lasting response. Indeed, I have it on my list of films you really must see (if you take me seriously). Elsewhere, I have celebrated this filmmaker, and how the twists in his being seem to (at least in this period) have created work that matters.
This is a documentary on the making of that film. Its made by a good filmmaker himself. It tells the tale, an interesting story. And it features two segments of Herzog on the scene, speaking coherently and somewhat poetically of the disruption that is the jungle. Its disturbing in its own right.
So what's wrong? Something significant, I think. Watching this takes much of the richness, the lush smell, out of "Fitz."
It explains it. It flattens it. It surrounds it with a story that is clear and thus takes away the space it naturally has for us to surround it with our own story.
Not all great art works this way, but some apparently does: it designates holes that we readily fill with ourselves and stitch together with the story our life might have been, or might not have. The design of "Fitz" is such that it contrasts the real (meaning "natural") with the stylized (meaning "civilized"). It has a simple spine that we can read and ignore while we understand instead the invisible lace of inner lust, lonely desire.
We need the space that surrounds it. We need the madness, the jungle, the lack of containing story. Its what we fill in with the jumble of our own jungles.
Seeing this takes away the experience of "Fitz." Its not just another case of an encounter with a filmmaker being less rewarding than an encounter with his (her) film. Its a matter of story walls where there shouldn't be.
Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.
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