The feared bandit Cobra Verde (Klaus Kinski) is hired by a plantation owner to supervise his slaves. After the owner suspects Cobra Verde of consorting with his young daughters, the owner ... See full summary »
Fitzcarraldo is an obsessed opera lover who wants to build an opera in the jungle. To accomplish this he first has to make a fortune in the rubber business, and his cunning plan involves hauling an enormous river boat across a small mountain with aid from the local Indians. Written by
Rune Sandnes <email@example.com>
Like Fitzcarraldo, Herzog has a well-known passion for opera--he's been known to conduct on occasion and refers to music as the territory of "ecstatic truth." Film, too, has that potential, if it's released from the literal and the director concentrates on the importance of "great images." It's no surprise, then, that Herzog made Fitzcarraldo without a well-defined narrative goal. He just wanted to see if he could do it.
Filmmaking is a personal and social process for him, not a finished product. It's an extreme version of method acting. Like Fitzcarraldo's lifting of the boat, grand gestures go far for Herzog, if only to show the world that you're great and visionary enough to try. Most of his characters are done in by their obsessive drive (Fitzcarraldo's boat crashing into the rapids, Aguirre madly pacing about on his raft), but leave behind something beautiful. Like a boat being dragged up a mountain in Peru with ropes and pulleys or a gun depot going up like the 4th of July.
You can't give Herzog too much credit--he's been more careful not to be done in by his hubris than any of his characters were. In fact, he's capitalized on it, much the same way Cappola did after Apocalypse Now or Hopper did after Easy Rider. No doubt, the tales of his misadventures contribute as much to his films' popularity as the stories and images themselves, and he's been quick to market his persona with books, talks, and films about himself, the mad director.
But still, Herzog is a great romantic that was born of a time and place (Munich, 1942) with few romantics, which is its own great feat. See Fitzcarraldo for a little bit of that.
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