Sight and Sound - 06/01/1982
Variety - 05/26/1982
"...This is a fun film. FITZCARRALDO is an adult daydream. A magnificent one at that..."
USA Today - 11/26/1999
"...Kinski's goofy smile connotes the indefatigable drive of those who rush in where even fools fear to tread..."
Total Film - 07/01/2007 5 stars out of 5 -- "Every bristling frame is saturated in Herzog's visionary fervour. It's a majestic and magnetic piece of cinema..."
Director Werner Herzog returns to the exotic locales and obsessive themes of previous works in his Amazon masterpiece, FITZCARRALDO. Klaus Kinski gives a terrifying and determined portrayal of mad genius Fitzcarraldo, whose twin goals of making a fortune off the Amazon rubber trade and bringing an opera house to the jungle give the film its crushing centerpiece--the maniacal leader's Sisyphean efforts at hauling a gigantic steamship over a mountain bank. The single-minded and wickedly energetic Fitzcarraldo moves mountains (and a boat) with his will and along the way acts out a stunning and emotional battle between man and nature, as in the similarly themed Herzog/Kinski collaboration AGUIRRE, THE WRATH OF GOD.
Herzog's razor-sharp attention to the minutiae of both Fitzcarraldo's madness and the jungle's corresponding apathy and enormity makes the film a breathtaking metaphor for civilization's impact on the natural world. The documentary style of the film (the cast and crew actually hauled the boat over the mountain) gives the tale an urgency and suspense that, combined with Kinski's bravado performance and Herzog's striking sense of landscape, make FITZCARRALDO an unforgettable experience.
This powerfully majestic film tells the story of a man obsessed building an opera house in the middle of the Peruvian jungle. In order to fund the project, he conceives the idea of pulling a steamboat over a mountain and into a river tributary where he can achieve a monopoly in the rubber trading business.
Character Study |
Essential Cinema |
Jason Robards was originally intended to play the part of Fitzcarraldo, with Mick Jagger as his sidekick (a character that was later revised). Robards became so ill in the jungle that he was flown back to America, where his doctor refused to let him return to the set.