Edit
Fitzcarraldo (1982) Poster

(1982)

Trivia

Director Werner Herzog destroyed all the footage of Jason Robards and Mick Jagger (Herzog has said that he never keeps the outtakes and unused footage of any of his films). When he wanted to use some of that footage in his film My Best Fiend (1999) ("My Best Fiend - Klaus Kinski")), there remained only what had been included in documentarian Les Blank's film Burden of Dreams (1982).
Jump to: Spoilers (2)
A real 340-ton steamship was moved over the mountain with a bulldozer, without the use of special effects.
Klaus Kinski was a major source of tension on set, as he fought virulently with the crew and raged over trivial matters. The natives where very upset about his behaviour. Werner Herzog has claimed that it went so far that one of the chieftains offered, in all seriousness, to murder Kinski for Herzog.
According to Werner Herzog, a Catholic priest urged him to include prostitutes as part of the movie's production crew or the men would go crazy in the jungle.
Based on a true story. Carlos Fermin Fitzcarrald was a Peruvian rubber baron, the son of an Irish-American father and a Peruvian mother, who developed the Madre de Dios basin by portaging a ship overland. It was disassembled, however, not moved intact. The rivers connected by the Isthmus of Fitzcarrald are the Rio Mishagua and Rio Manu; the Ucayali was part of the downstream shipping route. Fitzcarrald died at age 35 when his ship sank.
Was shot in English, since many of the actors on the set couldn't speak German.
Cinematographer Thomas Mauch's hand was split open trying to film the climax. He underwent a 2½ hour operation to put his hand back together again - and no anaesthesia was available. As he screamed and thrashed in agony, one of the two camp prostitutes (!) calmed him by pressing his head between her breasts.
Werner Herzog believed that no one had ever hauled a boat up a mountain in history, and likely never will again, calling himself "Conquistador of the Useless".
The production is documented in the film Burden of Dreams (1982).
Director Werner Herzog wanted Mario Adorf as captain of the ship, but Adorf refused to do the takes that involved the ship drifting throughout the rapids. Eventually, six men besides Herzog himself volunteered to do it. Of the six, three were wounded; one had two broken ribs.
9 of 9 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
In one of the region's driest summers on record, scavenging Amahuaca tribespeople launched a scavenging hit-and-run raid on the film camp. One man was lucky to survive an arrow through his throat, while his wife was hit in the stomach, necessitating eight hours of emergency surgery on a kitchen table. According to Werner Herzog, "I assisted by illuminating her abdominal cavity with a torchlight and with my other hand sprayed with repellent the clouds of mosquitoes that swarmed around the blood." Herzog decided against a revenge attack, because he believed it would be bad for international relations.
9 of 9 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
A Peruvian logger bitten by a deadly snake made the dramatic decision to cut off his own foot with a chainsaw to prevent the spread of the venom. Werner Herzog commented, "It was a good decision - he lived".
8 of 8 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Jack Nicholson loved the screenplay and wanted to play the lead character. He demanded his usual salary of 5 mill. dollars. which was too much for the producers, therefore they chose Jason Robards. But Robards became ill after 6 weeks of filming in the jungle and the production had to be stopped. The insurance company paid for the resulting costs and filming could start again after Klaus Kinski finally signed on.
7 of 7 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Werner Herzog has been accused of exploiting indigenous people in the making of the film, with some drawing similarities between Herzog and Fitzcarraldo. Michael F. Brown, a professor of anthropology at Williams College, notes that initially Herzog was on good terms with the Aguaruna people, some of whom were hired as extras for the film and for construction. Relations deteriorated, however, when Herzog began to build a village on Aguaruna land, failed to consult the tribal council, and tried to obtain protection from a local militia. In December 1979, Aguaruna men burned down the film set.
6 of 6 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Before filming could begin, Werner Herzog was immediately faced with the problem of finding an alternative location when the Aguaruna Indians in northern Peru violently ejected the entire film crew, protesting against the arrogant attitude of the filmmakers and the manner in which they had walked into villages and attempted to take control. The Aguaruna are the most politically unified native group in the entire Amazon, with a strong and often militant tribal council that has reacted quickly to outsiders who once again tried to take without giving back in return, or even asking first. Some of the council-members were jailed and a German aid-worker, who had been helping the Indians plant rice, was almost drowned by the film crew. After six months of argument, during which Herzog ordered soldiers to intimidate a village assembly by firing over their heads, the Aguaranas had had enough. They burnt down the film crew's camp and bundled its workers and equipment into three canoes.
5 of 5 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Werner Herzog didn't cast Klaus Kinski initially because he thought Kinski would go "totally bonkers" if trapped on location in the Amazon during the production's lengthy shooting schedule. His fears proved to be well founded.
8 of 9 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Jason Robards was replaced by Klaus Kinski.
6 of 7 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
River levels plunged to depths of two feet or less. As a result, the movie's steamship became stranded for months on a sand bar while waiting for rains to return. However, when rains came, Werner Herzog found himself working during the wildest rainy season in history.
3 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
The film was selected as the West German entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 55th Academy Awards, but was not accepted as a nominee.
3 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Werner Herzog fatuously claimed that the Indians were lucky that he had a doctor on set, failing to realize (or at least to admit) the fact that his policy of relocating diverse tribal groups in alien territory was bound to create inter-ethnic friction. The Indian extras, almost 1,000 in total, were housed in barrack room conditions. The food was appalling and medical supplies limited. There were not enough women to produce the Indians' staple, a drink made from manioc. The only diversion possible was soccer until the ball burst. One native died of malaria, sparking off a period of heightened tension. Some extras worked on the film for six months, their official rate of pay being around two dollars a day. The majority of them had been relocated hundreds of miles from their homes, families, and most importantly, their gardens. When the extras agreed to work on the film, they were unaware of two facts. First, that the project would take twice as long as Herzog had promised them. And second, that for most of this time the extras would work as laborers, clearing forest slopes and trying to haul a 365 ton ship up a 40-degree incline - a ship that was ten times larger than the original.
3 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Filming was hit by a plane crash that left four people dead and one paralysed.
3 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Three similar-looking ships were bought for the production and used in different scenes and locations, including scenes that were shot aboard the ship while it crashed through rapids.
2 of 2 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
While filming the scene on the rapids, one actor had to be lashed to the helm for fear he would fly through the windows when the ship crashed against rocks.
2 of 2 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
According to Les Blank, he witnessed Klaus Kinski physically attacking one of Werner Herzog's deputies.
2 of 2 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Among more than a thousand extras, a few perished from disease - though arguably not as many as might naturally have done so without the presence of the production's camp doctor.
1 of 1 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
In Portrait Werner Herzog (1986) the director visits again the place where he says, he had the original inspiration for this film: The ancient Carnac Stones in Carnac, Brittany, France. The huge rocks are so heavy that to this day it's unknown how they could be transported 5000 years ago.
1 of 1 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
The two deleted stars from the movie, Jason Robards and Mick Jagger share the same birthday, July 26.
2 of 4 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
1 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
The drums of the tribes heard when Kinski replies with an Enrico Caruso record are actually a record made in the 1960's in Burundi, Africa.
Is this interesting? Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink

Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

Every time Fitzcarraldo plays Enrico Caruso, his fortunes turn for the better.
Fitzcarraldo's first scene is paddling in a small motor boat. His last scene is standing atop a 300-ton cargo ship.

See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

Contribute to This Page