Fitzcarraldo (1982) or livewithfilm realises it has the emotional state of a nineteenth-century steamship

3 May

It is an oddly tiring sensation for livewithfilm to know that every film it watches will require a write up to follow. It isn’t difficult to form opinion about film because, after all, as an art form it is arguably designed to provoke debate and discussion. Simultaneously livewithfilm is under no obligation to keep going, aside from the ever creeping guilt ignited by another empty day on the blog’s calendar. But much like the enormous steamship dragged through the Amazonian jungle in today’s film, livewithfilm keeps moving on, fuelled by the momentum of all the blogs that precede its latest entry. You know when times are tough when one emerges from a two and a half hour epic, feeling pathos for a hulking water cruiser.

Opera lover Fitzcarraldo (Klaus Kinski) is determined to build a suitable music venue in the centre of the Peruvian jungle. Realising that he must generate considerable funds for his project, he forms a crew that will travel with him and harvest rubber from a section of untouched forest. Yet his plan develops into one that forces the ship to travel into dangerous territory and scale a mountain.

After hearing the tales about Werner Herzog’s film, livewithfilm couldn’t wait to observe the madness. Worthy of its own documentary (Burden of Dreams (1982)), the film’s production saw a 320 ton ship moved over a jungle hill, without special effects; multiple members of the crew injured during the turbulent filming of a rapid sequence; and Herzog being offered a gift of Kinski’s murder by a native chief who took exception to the star’s violent displays of anger. Amusingly this offer was only refused by the director because he needed his actor to complete certain scenes for the film’s completion. Amidst all of this emerges an intriguing movie that deftly mixes naturalism with the scene chewing fanaticism of its acting talent. Yes Fitzcarraldo tends to drag in places but this only adds to the uncompromising nature of both the protagonist’s and Herzog’s visions. It is a grand spectacle that both encapsulates and envisions untamed artistic vision.

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