There are a number of movies that people who think they want to make movies should see beforehand, and this one just might be the epitome of that.
Werner Herzog is, hands down, the most fascinating film director of all time. He just has all these qualities that elevate him, and subsequently his movies, into another realm. When he decided to make the highly ambitious film Fitzcarraldo, he also had it in mind to have Les Blank join him to film a making-of documenatry chronicling the film's shoot.
And the results are absolutely fantastic. There have been other movies about troubled film shoots, such as Hearts of Darkness about Apocalypse Now, or even American Movie, but they all seem to pale in comparison to this one, maybe just because of how difficult and troubled Fitzcarraldo's shoot was.
There was the problem of nature, logistics (such as doing everything practically, namely hauling a massive steamship over a mountain), countless delays, dealing with tons of Natives, dealing with geographical issues like red tape and potential civil wars, Herzog trying to deal with the force of nature that was the brilliant but difficult Klaus Kinski (this specific struggle mainly being addressed in the deleted scenes, which were actually taken from Herzog's documentary My Best Fiend), and the director's own massive ego, arrogance, determination, and increasing madness and cynicism.
It's not always flattering, but it's never sensationalist, either. It is simply showing things as they happened. Yeah, it's not always easy to watch, but it's so absorbing that it is hard not to. I especially love the unsubtle way that life reflects art/art reflects life, and the parallels with Herzog's real struggles being one in the same as the lead character's struggles.
If you ever wanted insight as to the sort of questions that can be raised concerning how far is to far when going for greatness and art, then you really must see this film. Or, if you just want to see the ultimate making-of document extended to feature length, then here you go.