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Film: Fitzcarraldo
Now is when the real problem begins...
Fitzcarraldo is a 1982 film written and directed by Werner Herzog. Itís based on the life of real rubber baron Carlos Fitzcarrald.

Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald, known as Fitzcarraldo, wants to build an opera house in Iquitos, Peru. To gather the money he decides to become a rubber magnate and leases a parcel from the government. The problem is that the river leading to his terrain is full of deadly rapids. However, he sees in a map there is another river that runs very close to it, but at the other side of the rapids. Determined to reach his goal no matter what, Fitzcarraldo decides to take advantage of the closeness of the river to make his boat cross from one river to the other.

The movie is famous for its Troubled Production, lasting more than four years, where Herzog really dragged a 320-ton boat over the land (with an inclination of 40 degrees) using methods even more difficult than the ones used by the real man. Also, the raving personality of Klaus Kinski got loose because of the isolation and the technical difficulties. It was so epic that a documentary of the making of the film was made, Burden of Dreams.


Provides Examples Of:

  • Biopic
  • Cool Boat: The Molly Aida.
  • Determinator: Fitzcarraldo. He wonít stop to reach his goal of building an opera house in Iquitos, even though he already failed with a previous enterprise (a trans-Andean railway) and he definitely wonít stop his journey just because the river he wants to reach is several hundreds of miles apart from where his boat is.
    • Herzog also qualifies, because in spite of all the trials and tribulations of the film, he never stopped working on it.
  • Doing It for the Art: There is no other reason for Herzog to pull this dangerous and crazy stunt.
  • The Drunken Sailor: Huerequeque.
  • Enforced Method Acting: The rapids the boat was sailing on with Kinski on it? All real.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The first time we see Fitzcarraldo, he's rushing with his wife to get to an opera premiere. All of Fitzcarraldo's love for opera along with his insane devotion to it come out in this moment. In essence, all of his magnificent character.
    Porter: Sir, Madame! This is a gala performance!
    Fitzcarraldo: We come from lquitos, one thousand two hundred miles down the Amazon. I had to row because our motor broke down.
    Molly: Look at his hands!
    Fitzcarraldo holds up bloodied and bandaged hands
    Fitzcarraldo: For two nights I've been rowing to see Caruso once in my life!
  • Fingore: During the filming of the rapids scene, one of the crewman on the boat fractured some of his fingers.
  • God Guise: Subverted. In order to get the manpower to drag the boat up the mountain, Fitzcarraldo and his crew try convincing a bunch of natives who conveniently have a legend about a divine power with a white vessel that Fitzcarraldo is a God. The natives inform them that they weren't born yesterday, but decide to help out anyway in exchange for ice.
  • It's Quiet... Too Quiet
  • Mad Artist: Kinski. He was so enraged during the production that the natives offered to kill him for Herzog. And Herzog actually considered it.
    • Some years later, Herzog made a documentary recounting his adventures with Kinski during the making of this movie entitled My Best Fiend.
  • Man in White: Fitzcarraldo.
  • Men Are Uncultured: Averted. Fitzcarraldo is a big fan of operas and even knows the names of composers, each one of their works, and background information about them.
  • Messy Pig: Piggy - he's not porcine, really, but he did get the name for a reason.
  • Nice Hat: Fitzcarraldo wears one.
  • No OSHA Compliance: The natives work with the pulleys in horrible conditions. They seriously ran the risk of losing their lives if something went wrong. In-universe, a couple of them die; in real life, at least one actor did.
  • River of Insanity: Even more off-camera.
    Werner Herzog: Kinski always says [nature] is full of erotic elements. I donít see it so much as erotic. I see it more as full of obscenity.... Nature here is violent, base. I wouldnít see anything erotical here. I would see fornication, and asphyxiation, and choking, and fighting for survival,... just rotting away. Of course there is lots of misery but it is to say misery that is all around us. The trees here are in misery, the birds here are in misery. I don't think they sing, they just screech in pain.
  • Scenery Porn
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Most of the crew abandon Fitzcarraldo the second it becomes clear that he's heading deep into Indian territory and won't be dissuaded.
  • Sliding Scale of Cynicism Versus Idealism: Fitcarraldo is the embodiment of idealism.
  • Spiritual Successor - to Aguirre, the Wrath of God, except on the other end of the above mentioned scale.
  • Troubled Production: To put it briefly, Herzog felt that the best way to invoke the madness involved in moving a multi-ton steamship across miles of dense jungle was to actually move a multi-ton steamship across miles of dense jungle, using methods that were actually more difficult and less efficient than those used in the actual event. To say this was a stressful experience would be an understatement.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Klaus Kinski doesn't hold a candle to Claudia Cardinale.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story
  • What Could Have Been: Originally Fitzcarraldo was played by Jason Robards and had Mick Jagger as an assistant. After they pulled out (Robards got very sick and his doctor forbade him to return, and Jagger couldn't stay with the film throughout its numerous delays while also keeping his commitments with the Stones), Herzog considered using Jack Nicholson and even himself in the titular role.

Die FeuerzangenbowleGerman FilmsForklift Driver Klaus
FirefoxFilms of the 1980sThe Flight of Dragons
FaustRoger Ebert Great Movies ListFive Easy Pieces

alternative title(s): Fitzcarraldo
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