This is what happens when your car breaks down on a Sunday morning and you have nothing else to do…
Burden of Dreams
For nearly five years, acclaimed German filmmaker Werner Herzog desperately tried to complete one of the most ambitious and difficult films of his career, Fitzcarraldo, the story of one man’s attempt to build an opera house deep in the Amazon jungle. Documentary filmmaker Les Blank captured the unfolding of this production, made more perilous by Herzog’s determination to shoot the most daunting scenes without models or special effects, including a sequence requiring hundreds of native Indians to pull a full-size, 320-ton steamship over a small mountain. The result is an extraordinary document of the filmmaking process and a unique look into the single-minded mission of one of cinema’s most fearless directors.
"If I abandon this project I would be a man without dreams, and I don't want to live like that."
Someone really missed out on a great opportunity to call this Herzcarraldo. It's amazing how closely the making of Herzog's Fitzcarraldo parallels the actual story within the film itself. The film hit every possible snag in its production, from sets falling apart to cast and crew being attacked by natives. And while this is due in large part to Herzog's insane dedication to verisimilitude, it also needs to be said that the director never asks anyone to do anything he doesn't do himself. The problem is that there's almost nothing Herzog won't do himself. There's a shot in the documentary…
In the teeth of a lousy bout of writer's block, it's a blessing to watch someone I admire as much as Werner Herzog saying he's "running out of fantasy". What a great term for the stalling of the imagination - good enough to be swiped for the title of a track on the Manic Street Preachers' 2013 album Rewind the Film.
One of the most quotable documentaries ever, Burden of Dreams sees Herzog in the Amazon rainforest, trying to complete his film Fitzcarraldo. Directed by Herzog's friend and fellow director Les Blank, it largely avoids sensationalism - the famous clip from Herzog's later documentary My Best Fiend of Klaus Kinski screaming out producer Walter Saxer does not appear, despite being…
"I love it, but I love it against my better judgement".
It's difficult to review this objectively, separate from what I consider to be the greatest film ever made, but I might watch FITZCARRALDO soon so I'll save it. The lovely thing is that BURDEN OF DREAMS stands alone as a great documentary and a perfect companion to its subject. It can be watched before (even though it has "spoilers" I endorse doing this, I saw MY BEST FIEND before FITZCARRALDO and the background information made me appreciate the film much more) or alone. It tells a story by itself, focused on a man willing to risk his life for a metaphor and the disappearing native Amazon people that helped…
They say you have to be a little crazy to create good art. Well, Herzog is a complete madman.
I have the greatest respect and admiration for both the man and the filmmaker Werner Herzog. Just as Fitzgerald, Herzog goes unheard lengths to complete his vision, not matter what. To pull a 320-ton steamer up and over a hill is no joke , it's not film tricks, it's not special effects. Herzog actually did it, risking both the entire production and lives, to complete his dream without compromising. The creative and uncompromising madness of Herzog is reflected in the ambitious maniac in Fitzgerald, and vice versa.
Watching Fitzcarraldo and the documentary Burden of Dreams back-to-back is one of the most rewarding film experiences you can ever have. The story of Herzog is in many ways better than the movie…
Herzog is my favourite person in the whole world
"The trees here are in misery, and the birds are in misery. I don't think they sing, they just screech in pain."
I wanted to give this 5 stars based purely on how Herzog pronounces the word "boat".
Rewatched with the commentary by Les Blank, Maureen Gosling and Werner Herzog.
A bit odd watching a commentary of making of film. It's a slight bit meta to say the least. However, some VERY good insight was given by both the filmmakers as well as Werner himself (recorded separately).
Plus it was recorded some 20 years later, so the benefit of hindsight helped them to really reveal some changing feelings and new outlooks about the film process. WELL WORTH the listen/watch. (available on the Criterion Collection disc).
Perhaps the greatest of all "making-of" documentaries, Les Blank's Burden of Dreams follows Werner Herzog's chaotic and near disastrous production of Fitzcarraldo. Herzog, no stranger to putting himself and his crew in danger, displayed his greatest achievement of lunacy and eccentricity to date with Fitzcarraldo - nothing was going to stop him pulling up a large steamboat up a mountain. The mere thought of such passion is incredulous. But Herzog and his crew did it, and his good friend Les Blank captured the whole production on celluloid.
And to be honest, I do admire the man's passion for the project. Herzog may be weird and eccentric, but I would also call him intelligent. Even himself noting how much mayhem this…
One of the best docs about making a film. Right up there with "Hearts of Darkness," "Lost in La Mancha" and "American Movie."
And it contains my ALL-TIME FAVORITE Herzog monologue:
"It's an unfinished country. It's still prehistorical. The only thing that is lacking is the dinosaurs here. It's like a curse weighing on an entire landscape. And whoever goes too deep into this has his share of that curse. So we are cursed with what we are doing here. It is a land that God, if he exists, has created in anger. It's the only land where creation is unfinished yet. Taking a close look at what is around us there is some sort of a harmony. It is…
sometimes you're fitzcarraldo, sometimes your herzog, sometimes you're les blank.
we need all of them to be fulfilled as a species.
For anyone who loves filmmaking, adventure and passion. Les Blank captured more than he could have possibly imagined as he follows Herzog's filming of "Fitzcarraldo." Fascinating, exceptional, unique and not to be missed.
Gasped aloud when the third ship rammed into the goddamned rocks. Hemingway's got nothing on Herzog's crazy masculinity jeez
Werner Herzog...what a man. If only he was in more films like this. This would have been a wonderful behind-the-scenes whether Herzog succeeded or not. Maybe Herzog has always been a little crazy, but this is truly inspiring stuff.
High-rated movies with very few views. Suggestions are welcome.
UPDATED: August 26 2016
The Criterion Collection is a video distribution company that sells "important classic and contemporary films" in…