Fitzcarraldo (1982)

PG  |   |  Adventure, Biography, Drama  |  10 October 1982 (USA)
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The story of Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald, an extremely determined man who intends to build an opera house in the middle of a jungle.



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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 4 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »
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Complete credited cast:
Miguel Ángel Fuentes ...
Paul Hittscher ...
Captain (Orinoco Paul)
Huerequeque Enrique Bohorquez ...
Huerequeque (The Cook) (as Huerequeque Enrique Bohórquez)
Grande Otelo ...
Station master (as Grande Othelo)
Peter Berling ...
Opera Manager
David Pérez Espinosa ...
Chief of Campa Indians
Milton Nascimento ...
Black Man At Opera House
Ruy Polanah ...
Rubber Baron
Salvador Godínez ...
Old Missionary
Dieter Milz ...
Young Missionary
William Rose ...
Notary (as Bill Rose)
Leoncio Bueno


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 <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






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Release Date:

10 October 1982 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Fickaraldo  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


SEK 1,793,870 (Sweden)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


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When the two crew members fight with each other, the shadow of the camera is visible on the left one. See more »


Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald - 'Fitzcarraldo': How can anyone learn patriotism from a school book?
Young Missionary: The Government requires it.
Old Missionary: The natives get used to it. Like vaccination.
Young Missionary: The children already feel like little Peruvians. The other day I asked them, "Are you Indians?" "No," they said, "not we, the ones up the river, they are Indians." And then I asked. "What are Indians?" "They said to me "Indians are people who can't read and who don't know how to wash their clothes."
Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald - 'Fitzcarraldo': And what about the older people?
Old Missionary: Well, we can't seem to cure them of the...
See more »


Featured in Incident at Loch Ness (2004) See more »


Opera in Manaos
from "Ernani" by Giuseppe Verdi
Production: Werner Schroeter
Ernani: Veriano Luchetti (voice)
Costante Moret (actor)
Silva: Dimiter Pekov (voice and actor)
Elvira: Mietta Sighele (voice)
Singer at orchestra: Lourdes Magalhaes
Sarah Bernhardt: Jean-Claude Dreyfuss
Stage design: Gianni Ratto
Orchestra of the Filarmonica Veneta
Conducted by Giorgio Croci
See more »

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User Reviews

Audacious and imperfect, unique and disappointing
22 December 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Fitzcarraldo (1982)

The plot, and the necessary parallel in making the movie, is audacious, and the end is a quiet, satisfying thrill. That, and the intense performance by the lead, Klaus Kinski, is what keeps people watching this movie, which is utterly unique.

But Fitzcarraldo is not especially lyrical, original, well-written, or well-acted. It has not worn well. I first saw it sometime in the 1980s and it was somehow mesmerizing, if imperfect. The whole exotic flavor of Peru and these foreigners acting exceedingly foreign was based on a dreamy idea that high culture (opera) can and should rise above all else. It was a triumph of the spirit of the individual. Twenty years later that is tempered by the absolute imperialism, bombast, blindness, and idiocy of it all. No longer swayed by the aura of the plot, the flaws in the way the film was made jump out.

For starters, the language. To have some native Spanish speakers talking in German and others, with haphazardness, speaking Spanish or some indigenous language, is inconsistent. Not that they should speak English, no way, but either have them seem to be natives with a knowledge of German, or just use subtitles. Further worrisome are the stereotypes, the "types" of people cast as the cook, his lovers, the captain, the natives, and so on, many of whom do not really act so much as play out their cardboard expectations.

The camera-work is interesting because it is not notable--and maybe this is intentional, because too much lyricism would distract from the facts. But the facts, you notice, are not really convincing. We have a fictional movie no matter how painstaking the famous scenes with the boat toward the end. It falters too often into cliché and, actually, mediocrity (I see this even in the last scene, the crowd on the shore, there they are, nothing more is said).

Maybe I take it to literally, and I should blur out the details. Because as a metaphor of possibility, and of the huge price you have to pay to succeed, or to fail beautifully, it still holds up. In some weird way, because it dared to be different, the movie is still remarkable. But something different than I once thought.

16 of 23 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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US blu ray release January 2015 notvertigo
What's the advantage of getting the boat into the other river system? Stryke01
Am I the only one... shoobe01-1
Subtitles messed up in R4 release Gorgasm
Fitzcarraldo NOT in the Top 250? Absurd! niktemadur
language? thomasiversen
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