“Werner Herzog's Fitzcarraldo is a movie in the great tradition of grandiose cinematic visions. Like Coppola's Apocalypse Now or Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, it is a quest film in which the hero's quest is scarcely more mad than the filmmaker's

“The movie is the story of a dreamer named Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald, whose name has been simplified to Fitzcarraldo by the In dians and Spanish who inhabit his  corner of South America.He spends his days making a little money from an ice factory and his nights dreaming up new schemes. One of them has already failed. Now he is ready with another: to build an opera house in the jungle.

“If his plan is mad, his method for carrying it out is madness of another dimension. He becomes obsessed with the fact that a nearby river system offers access to hundreds of thousands of square miles of potential trading customers -- if only a modern steamship could be introduced into that system. There is a point, he notices, where the other river is separated only by a thin finger of land from a river that already is navigated by boats. His inspiration: Drag a steamship across land to the other river, float it, set up a thriving trade, and use the profits to build the opera house.

“Fitzcarraldo determines to drag the boat up one hill and down the other side in one piece. He enlists engineers to devise a system of blocks-and-pulleys that will do the trick, and he hires the local Indians to work the levers with their own muscle power. And it is here that we arrive at the thing about Fitzcarraldo that transcends all understanding: Werner Herzog determined to literally drag a real steamship up a real hill, using real tackle and hiring the local Indians.

“But Fitzcarraldo is not all sweat and madness. It contains great poetic images of the sort Herzog is famous for. As a document of a quest and a dream, and as the record of man's audacity and foolish, visionary heroism, there has never been another movie like it.”
- Rumsey Taylor, Slant


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