Conquest of the Useless: Reflections on the Making of FITZCARRALDO by Werner Herzog

Herzog

A funny thing happened on the way to LAX last Friday.

I will admit to never having seen “Fitzcarraldo”. But I was thoroughly rivited by the NPR interview with the film’s director-dreamer Werner Herzog  that I listened to on the way to the airport to collect Frank Frost who was arriving for the National Film Retreat: NPR: Werner Herzog Reveals Intense Private Journals (You can listen to it, which I recommend, or download a transcript).

The New York Times reviewed CONQUEST OF THE USELESS: Reflections on the Making of “Fitzcarraldo”  in yesterday’s Book Review section. The reviewer, Mark Harris, didn’t care much for the two year’s worth of linear journal entries (they seemed to  irritate his gestalt) about Herzog’s folly in the Brazilian rain forest - and if I had read his review first I would have changed radio stations instead of tuning into a fascinating and articulate interview of a major cinematic auteur.

About his filmmaking Herzog said that he has been categorized as a German romanticist but he thoroughly resists this label. He is about nature.  Think “Rescue Dawn” and “Grizzley Man” for starters.

If you are a student of cinema, check this out. I may not read the book but I want to see the film to find out why a filmmaker would spend so much energy, time, humanity, and money on what, to some, is a work of art and to others, an absurdity.


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