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Fitzcarraldo

This screening took place on
Sunday, January 15, 2012 at 8:00pm
Yukon Arts Centre

Roger Ebert:
“Werner Herzog’s ‘Fitzcarraldo’ is one of the great visions of the cinema, and one of the great follies. One would not have been possible without the other. This is a movie about an opera-loving madman who is determined to drag a boat overland from one river system to another. In making the film, Herzog was determined to actually do that, which is more than can be said for Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald, the Irishman whose story inspired him.

‘Fitzcarraldo’ (1982) is one of those brave and epic films, like ‘Apocalypse Now’ or ‘2001,’ where we are always aware both of the film, and of the making of the film. Herzog could have used special effects for his scenes of the 360-ton boat being hauled up a muddy 40-degree slope in the jungle, but he believed we could tell the difference: “This is not a plastic boat.” Watching the film, watching Fitzcarraldo (Klaus Kinski) raving in the jungle in his white suit and floppy panama hat, watching Indians operating a block-and-tackle system to drag the boat out of the muck, we’re struck by the fact that this is actually happening, that this huge boat is inching its way onto land—as Fitzcarraldo (who got his name because the locals could not pronounce “Fitzgerald”) serenades the jungle with his scratchy old Caruso recordings.

Among directors of the last four decades, has anyone created a more impassioned and adventurous career than Werner Herzog? Most people have only seen a few of his films, or none; he cannot be fully appreciated without a familiarity with his many documentaries and more obscure features (such as ‘Heart of Glass’ and ‘Stroszek’). His 2005 documentary ‘Grizzly Man,” about a man who spent 13 summers with the grizzly bears of Alaska, is the spiritual brother of ‘Fitzcarraldo’—both times, men are driven by obsession to challenge the wilderness. Again and again, in films shot in Africa, Australia, Southeast Asia and South America, he has been drawn to the farthest reaches of the earth and to the people who live there with their images uncorrupted by the thin gruel of mass media.”

Watch for two new Herzog documentaries at Available Light Film Festival 2012: ‘Happy People: A Year in the Taiga’ and ‘Into the Abyss.’

  • Directed by Werner Herzog
  • 1982, Germany/Peru
  • 158 minutes

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