Picks and Pans Review: Fitzcarraldo
The subject of this intense, hypnotic, erratic movie is obsession—that of the main characters and perhaps more interestingly that of West German director Werner Herzog himself. Klaus Kinski, Nastassia's dad, plays a half-mad Irishman living in the young town of Iquitos along the Amazon earlier in this century. It is his half-baked dream to bring grand opera to the mud shacks that line the river. To do it, he must first make a lot of money, so he concocts a scheme to harvest rubber from an inaccessible section of the Amazon. His solution: drag an old steamer from a nearby river up over an Andean mountain so it can carry the rubber part of the way. The image of the steamer being slowly winched over a mountain is the central metaphor of the film, which is based on a true story. It could also summarize Herzog's struggle to get the movie made on location. In addition to finding himself in the middle of a brawl between two factions of the resident Indian tribe, Herzog also lost the services of his two original stars, Jason Robards and Mick Jagger. Robards came down with a case of galloping dysentery, and when production stopped Jagger, who had done three months' shooting, had to leave for other commitments, including a concert tour. Then there were Herzog's disputes with his longtime star, Kinski, who has appeared in Aguirre, the Wrath of God and Wozzeck, among other Herzog films. Their collaboration is, as always, fascinating. Kinski brings a berserk quality to almost anything he does. In this movie he is all dyed blond hair and filthy white suits as he impersonates the deranged opera buff. This film is similar to Aguirre, which was a metaphoric portrayal of Germany under Hitler disguised as a Spanish conquistador adventure. The ending on this one is strangely out of sync, happy where it should have been tragic. (In German with English subtitles) (Unrated)
On Newsstands Now
- 25 Most Intriguing People!
- Best (and Worst!) of 2013
- Jennifer Lawrence's Incredible Year
Pick up your copy on newsstands
Click here for instant access to the Digital Magazine