Sunday, July 29, 2007


Movie of the week:

That idea is so crazy, it just might work.

When I first started writing about these movies, there were literally just three people on my distribution list. It was easy. They were personal friends of mine, and I could target the sort of films I knew they might like - that I knew would appeal to them. Now, there are so many of you, that is almost impossible. Hence my common qualification, "this movie is not for everybody" or, "you need to have a certain sense of humor to enjoy this film" or, "most of you will HATE this movie".

Now, I think I've finally found a movie that will appeal to almost everyone! You won't need to be jaded against the Hollywood junk machine. You won't need to be desperate for something that's so different that no one in his right mind would otherwise watch. You won't need to suspend disbelief at any time. Everyone will love this movie. You just have to be willing to read subtitles.....

OK, so maybe it doesn't appeal to everyone.

Director, Werner Herzog made two films based in the Amazon jungle of South America. The first, Aguirre: The Wrath of God, was about a conquistador, played by Klaus Kinski, who broke rank and led his men on a search for the legendary El Dorado - and instead found madness. In FITZCARRALDO, also played by Klaus Kinski, a very determined man follows his dream.

The story: Klaus Kinski plays Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald - 'Fitzcarraldo', a man who ekes out a meager living making ice in the Peruvian jungle of the early 1900’s. Fitz has one love in his life – opera. His dream is to build an opera house there in the jungle - but it costs money, more money that can be had making and selling ice. The only known way to make that kind of money is (no – not cocaine, this is early 1900’s) to harvest the indigenous rubber trees from the jungle. Sounds easy enough, but the only unclaimed rubber trees are located up a section of the river that is not navigable by boat. But nobody is going to tell Fitzy what he can’t do.

The result is an adventure on an epic scale. Fitzcarraldo is a very likeable character because he truly believes in what he is doing. It’s the same reason that we like Don Quixote. He’s crazy – but in a good and interesting way. In the same way, we like Fitzcarraldo because he doesn’t let anything deter his quest – like physics.

Here’s some interesting FITZCARRALDO tidbits.

  1. There are no special effects in this film. What the characters did in the movie, the actors actually did. No miniatures were used. The ship was moved with a hand winch just as you see it. When the ship encounters the rapids, the ship encounters actual rapids (six actors and crewmembers were injured during that scene).
  2. Klaus Kinski and director Werner Herzog independently plotted each other’s murder during the shooting. What the hell, it’s the Amazon jungle – who’s going to know?
  3. This actor and director made several films together. Their friendship and intense hatred for each other is legendary in the film industry and is chronicled in the documentary Klaus Kinski: My Best Fiend (not misspelled).
  4. Actual native Peruvians were used in the jungle scenes. They came to Herzog at the end of shooting to thank him for hiring them and for his friendship and generosity. As a token of friendship, they offered to kill Kinski for him. He told them he’d think about it.
  5. Kinski, who was notorious for being difficult to work with, continuously threatened to walk off the set. Legend has it that Herzog held a gun to his head and threatened to fire unless he finished the film.
  6. At the beginning of filming, the movie starred Jason Robards as Fitz, and also featured Mick Jagger. When Jason got ill (it was a jungle after all), Kinski came in. This was good because Robards would be playing a madman, while Kinski was just playing himself. I don’t know what happened to Mick.
  7. For that matter, what ever happened to Mick? Does he do anything these days? He better be doing something – he’s got a lot of alimony to pay.
  8. This film makes Steven Jay Schneider’s book, “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”. In fact, it makes most film critics’ “must see” list.
  9. This is one of film critic Roger Ebert’s favorite films. You can read his review here.
  10. Opera – schmopera. If he wanted it that bad, why didn’t he just move to where the opera was?????

I know I recommend a lot of really funky films – especially lately, but all kidding aside, this is one hell of a movie. If you make the effort to read the subtitles (or learn German), you’ll be treated to an unforgettable cinematic experience. Besides, there’s nothing good on TV tonight – so what the hell?


view trailer


At 11:06 AM, Blogger knicksgrl0917 said...

hey! i'm going to cali this weekend and won't be back until is the website i was talking about where i made extra summer cash. Later! the website is here


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home