Monday, 7 January 2013

Fitzcarraldo [1982]

Herzog's Fitzcarraldo serves as a terrific companion piece to the masterful Aguirre, The Wrath of God, and was nearly as powerful in its vision and breathtaking in its execution; no wonder, they are considered part of the thematically linked ‘Selva Trilogy’. An incredible and cautionary account of human ambition, lust for glory and folly, with underlying observations on colonialism, the protagonist here was as megalomaniacal as in the latter film, albeit minus the deranged psychopathy. Partly based on the exploits of a real-life rubber baron, the film’s protagonist is the titular Fitzgerald (Kluas Kinski), a European businessman living in Peru, who dreams of building an opera in the South American jungles and have Enrico Caruso, his favourite tenor, perform there. Thus he borrows money from his doting mistress (Claudio Cardinale), buys a boat and sets sail along the Amazon River for his latest, and grandest, entrepreneurship venture. The more they sail into the dangerous Amazon heartlands, the more his genius and madness come forth. In among the most unforgettable sequences in all of cinema, he uses the aborigines to haul the steamship, weighing over 300 tons, across a ridge. The scenes, with Carousel playing in the background, provided a frightening commentary on the limitlessness and utter absurdity of ambition. Kinski gave a tour de force performance of a singularly obsessed man who just doesn’t know where to stop, while he fought incessantly behind the scenes – a native actor had even offered to murder him on Herzog’s behalf! The film’s tumultuous 4-year production history is now part of cinematic folklore, adding a darkly ironic touch to its theme.

Director: Werner Herzog
Genre: Drama/Psychological Drama/Adventure
Language: German/Spanish
Country: Germany

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