Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald (played by Klaus Kinski) is quite a man. He is married to the local bordello owner. He is a schemer. He is a dreamer. He is an Irishman with a crazy Polish accent. But above all else, he is an opera lover.
He’s got a dream. He is going to build an opera house in the middle of the Amazon. Strangely enough, it is hard for him to convince anyone else what a fantastic idea this is, so he schemes a way to make a fortune off of a rubber plantation. With the money for the opera house in hand, the rest of the plan should go like clockwork right? Wrong. They have to get the materials to the jungle. In a steam boat. And there are rapids. And angry natives. And a mountain. Ok enough, you’ll see what I mean.
Released in 1982, Fitzcarraldo marks the fifth time Kinski worked with his dearest friend and worst enemy, director Werner Herzog. I highly recommend a double feature of this and Burden of Dreams, the documentary by Les Blank which follows the production from beginning to almost-end and shows what torture it was get this film made.
Fitzcarraldo is in English, Spanish and German with subtitles. I should warn you about before you see this or any other Herzog film is that, like much of European cinema, the pacing will be slow compared to your average American film. Herzog sometimes takes this to an extreme – his work is often and justly described as hypnotic. Like that one scene (ok four scenes) where he just focuses on the rapids of the Amazon for two and a half minutes (ok three and a half). Though this may sound tedious the rewards of the film are great. The haunting score by Popol Vuh only adds to the experience. You will never forget it.