• If you’ve seen Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo but not Les Blank’s Burden of Dreams, then you haven’t really experienced the whole story of Herzog’s epic. The undertaking of Fitzcarraldo was mammoth—and more than a little mad. In deciding to make his tale of a European man (Klaus Kinski) determined, against all odds, to open an opera house deep in the Amazon Rainforest in Peru, Herzog showed an ambition that matched that of his crazed protagonist—they both insisted on pulling a 320-ton ship over a mountain, after all, no special effects involved. Nonfiction auteur Les Blank was there to capture the visionary filmmaker’s process and occasional insanity for Burden of Dreams, surely one of the greatest of all behind-the-scenes documentaries. Berkeley-area moviegoers can see an archival print of Burden of Dreams today, August 30, at Pacific Film Archive, with Maureen Gosling (the film’s editor and sound recordist) in person. Below, watch a scene from the film showing Herzog, at wit’s end, offering his take on the natural surroundings he was battling.

5 comments

  • By Cezary_C
    August 30, 2012
    07:59 PM

    Along with HEARTS OF DARKNESS: A FILMMAKER'S APOCALYPSE, this is one of the all-time greatest films-about-a-film. I can't imagine anyone watching FITZCARRALDO and not wanting to know more about how Herzog managed to drag a 300 ton steamer boat up and over a hill. This documentary shows that even Herzog, himself, wasn't sure that this was possible, but that he kept on going, in spite of the advice of all those around him and even his own instinct. Even if you didn't enjoy FITZCARRALDO and are not a fan of Herzog's films, I highly recommend you watch this documentary (after you watch FITZCARRALDO, that is).
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  • By Batzomon
    August 30, 2012
    10:17 PM

    YOU'RE A MADMAN, HERZOG! THAT BOAT WILL NEVER ASCEND! Shows what you know, conventional logic of film-making.
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  • By Patrick
    August 31, 2012
    07:33 AM

    Dear Criterion, Would love to see Fitzcarraldo (or any Herzog film) enter the collection if at all possible. All the best, Patrick
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    • By Shaun
      August 31, 2012
      02:09 PM

      I second this, i would be great if only to have Criterion honor Herzog with inclusion in The Collection. I love those two Anchor Bay sets, but Blu upgrades would be nice; a Blu of Aguirre too (imagine seeing the long procession going down the mountain in HD!).
  • By DUDElaundrey
    September 10, 2012
    06:29 PM

    many herzog fans would love to see some of his films included.. most of them are easy to find, and are in print, especially his best films stroszek, fittcaraldo, nosferatu etc... but a nice criterion treatment of any of his films would b great. i am sure this is due to the rights being with anchor bay, and they sell pretty decent, being there are many deep in the cult of herzog like myself... but still, try criterion, try
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