Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB
USA, 1982. Independent Documentary Fund, The National Endowment for the Arts, Ford Foundation, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Public Television Stations, SDR Fernsehen, Flower Films. Screenplay by Michael Goodwin. Cinematography by Les Blank. Produced by Les Blank. Film Editing by Maureen Gosling.
Les Blank’s scintillating film follows Werner Herzog through the jungles of South America as he tries to accomplish his near-impossible dream of making Fitzcarraldo, a drama about a music enthusiast (played originally by Jason Robards who was later replaced by Klaus Kinski) looking to bring opera to the natives of the Amazon.
In the film itself, bringing classical singing to jungle primitives is basically a task worthy of Greek mythology and, as it turns out, making a film about it is even more so. Herzog has to deal with native extras, political turmoil in the countries he films in and the generally unwelcoming atmosphere of the jungle as he manifests the difficulties of artistic creation into something life threatening (and in some cases, lethal).
At the same time your eye is dazzled by the sights and sounds as Blank and his crew capture the surrounding world of this incredible production, which drops you headfirst into an unbelievable rabbit-hole and holds you there until the end. Awe-inspiring work that might surpass the film whose production it is covering.
The Criterion Collection: #287