|Herzog's Fitzcarraldo was a nightmare to make.|
Directed by Les Blank
Produced by Les Blank
Written by Michael Goodwin (narration)
Starring Werner Herzog, Klaus Kinski and Claudia Cardinale
Plot Summary: Werner Herzog struggles to make Fitzcarraldo in the unforgiving South American jungle.
Significance: Generally regarded as one of the best documentaries ever made, the film won the Flaherty Documentary Award at the BAFTAs, and it was nominated by the American Cinema Editors guild for achievement in documentary editing. In 1999, the film was preserved in the Academy Film Archive.
Thoughts: Based on the events depicted in Blank’s documentary, the fact that Fitzcarraldo (a better film) even exists is a small miracle. The delays and complications Herzog and the crew faced propel the film’s narrative, as one disaster after another pushes production onward amidst a grueling, extended timeline - almost five years of production, no less. Blank uses a few interviews and behind-the-scenes footage to tell most of the story, but his frustration seems to have caused him to give up on an even better documentary. Fortunately, Herzog has the stamina to stay the course and give Blank some great footage. Overall, it’s an interesting look at how a classic film managed to survive an enormously difficult production.