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File:Fitzcarraldo 972.gif

Fitzcarraldo is a 1982 film written and directed by Werner Herzog. It’s based on the life of real rubber baron Carlos Fitzcarrald.

Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald, known as Fitzcarraldo, wants to build an opera house in Iquitos, Peru. To gather the money he decides to become a rubber magnate and leases a parcel from the government. The problem is that the river leading to his terrain is full of deadly rapids. However, he sees in a map there is another river that runs very close to it, but at the other side of the rapids. Determined to reach his goal no matter what, Fitzcarraldo decides to take advantage of the closeness of the river to make his boat cross from one river to the other.

The movie is famous for its Troubled Production, lasting more than four years, where Herzog really dragged a 320-ton boat over the land (with an inclination of 40 degrees) using methods even more difficult than the ones used by the real man. Also, the raving personality of Klaus Kinski got loose because of the isolation and the technical difficulties. It was so epic that a documentary of the making of the film was made, Burden of Dreams.


Tropes in this film:

  • Biopic
  • Cool Boat: The Molly Aida.
  • Determinator: Fitzcarraldo. He won’t stop to reach his goal of building an opera house in Iquitos, even though he already failed with a previous enterprise (a trans-Andean railway) and he definitely won’t stop his journey just because the river he wants to reach is several hundreds of miles apart from where his boat is.
    • Herzog also qualifies, because in spite of all the trials and tribulations of the film, he never stopped working on it.
  • Doing It for the Art: There is no other reason for Herzog to pull this dangerous and crazy stunt.
  • Downer Ending: The plan to move the boat is a success, but the Indians betray him and Fitzcarraldo is lucky to keep his life and the boat after the rapids. He seems happy at the end, though.
    • What? How can this possibly be a Downer Ending? Fitzcarraldo SUCCEEDED in his original objective, to bring opera to Iquitos, when he found out that the opera company was available and needed transport. See above under Crowning Moment of Awesome.
  • Enforced Method Acting: The rapids the boat was saling on with Kinski on it? All real.
  • Fingore: During the filming of the rapids scene, one of the crewman on the boat fractured some of his fingers.
  • God Guise: Subverted. In order to get the manpower to drag the boat up the mountain, Fitzcarraldo and his crew try convincing a bunch of natives who conveniently have a legend about a divine power with a white vessel that Fitzcarraldo is a God. The natives inform them that they weren't born yesterday, but decide to help out anyway in exchange for ice.
  • Mad Artist: Kinski. He was so enraged during the production that the natives offered to kill him for Herzog. And Herzog actually considered it.
    • Some years later, Herzog made a documentary recounting his adventures with Kinski during the making of this movie entitled My Best Fiend.
  • Man in White: Fitzcarraldo.
  • Men Are Uncultured: Averted. Fitzcarraldo is a big fan of operas and even knows the names of composers.
  • Messy Pig: Piggy - he's not porcine, really, but he did get the name for a reason.
  • Nice Hat: Fitzcarraldo wears one.
  • No OSHA Compliance: The natives work with the pulleys in horrible conditions. They seriously ran the risk of losing their lives if something went wrong. In-universe, a couple of them die; in real life, at least one actor did.
  • River of Insanity: Even more off-camera.

  Werner Herzog: Kinski always says [nature] is full of erotic elements. I don’t see it so much as erotic. I see it more as full of obscenity.... Nature here is violent, base. I wouldn’t see anything erotical here. I would see fornication, and asphyxiation, and choking, and fighting for survival,... just rotting away. Of course there is lots of misery but it is to say misery that is all around us. The trees here are in misery, the birds here are in misery. I don't think they sing, they just screech in pain.

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