Burden of Dreams - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Burden of Dreams Reviews

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Super Reviewer
July 23, 2012
Plenty of documentaries are made about the art of filmmaking, but very few capture the drive/lunacy it sometimes takes to realize a vision like Burden of Dreams. Les Blank's film, in my opinion, does a better job of portraying the insanity and spirit of Fitzcarraldo than the eponymous film itself. The similarities between the character Fitzcarraldo and Herzog himself are endless. Despite Blank's poetic filming of the amazon jungle, despite all of the conflicts the cast and natives encounter, and despite the documentary footage displayed, the heart of this film is the essence of cinema. This movie is about film-making and the art of it; its passion, its plight, its entirety. Herzog closes the film by stating, "It's not only my dreams, it's my belief that they are yours as well, and the only distinction between me and you is that I can articulate. And that is what poetry or literature or film-making is all about. it's as simple as that. I make films because I have not learned anything else. And I know I can do it to a certain degree. and it is my duty, because this might be the inner chronicle of what we are, and we have to articulate ourselves, otherwise we would be cows in the field." If you really let those words sink in, you truly begin to understand this man, this film, and really, cinema itself.

PS: If I ever make a tribute to the bat shit crazy Werner Herzog, I will definitely call it "Overwhelming Fornication."
½ June 3, 2012
This is one of the best "making-of" docs that I have ever seen. It follows Werner Herzog as he follows the trials & tribulations of trying to get "Fitzcaraldo" made. Such a fascinating story and Herzog himself is very interesting as he is constantly doing the impossible. The DVD also fatures the short doc "Werner Herzog Eats his Show" which is a must see. Very Highly recommended!
Super Reviewer
April 10, 2012
Makes you wonder how Herzog ever get the opportunity to make another film again. Shows the true arrogance of Werner in making a woefully epic disaster which could have been made more practically and with the same impact.
February 19, 2012
One of the most interesting documentaries I have ever seen. Burden of Dreams is about the production of German filmmaker Werner Herzog's film Fitzcarraldo starring the late & great mad actor Klaus Kinski. On the level with like minded films such as Hearts of Darkness.
January 29, 2012
Werner Herzog is an uncompromising, brilliant, badass motherfucker.
December 20, 2011
I already saw this movie, and it wad called Fitzcarraldo. Seriously though, i am amazed at the simarities between the story told in Herzog' famous movie and the story of how the famous movie was made. Plus, I love Herzog with a mustache. Must see for herzog fans.
December 17, 2011
It's the 4-5 minute talk Herzog has with the camera near the end that makes this movie brilliant. You watch and wonder why in God's name he's going to such great lengths to make a movie. Any fans of film or especially the process need to see this.
October 17, 2011
THE perfect documentary.
September 24, 2011
This film proves beyond a doubt that Werner Herzog teeters on the edge between ambition and utter insanity. He should be an inspiration/warning for any aspiring filmmaker.
September 17, 2011

CRITERION DVD and Laserdiscs RULE!!!!!!

another oft-sat-upon movie.

When you "sit-on" movies (i.e. prevent their release for whatever reason) you are denying people the privilege of seeing great ideas and great art presented on film or video.
Super Reviewer
½ September 13, 2011
I am not fully on the Herzog train but I certainly admire his drive. And by drive, I mean his lunacy of course. I had always heard that Kinski was crazy, but just listening to Herzog's words and how he pushes on in the face of every momentous setback really showed me that Herzog may be just as mad. This film documents not only the tumultuous production of his most famous film Fitzcarraldo, but also offers a look at how Herzog channels his madness into pursuing his dreams. It drags in some areas, but overall pretty fascinating for anyone interested in the man, the myth, the legend, Werner Herzog.
September 2, 2011
An in depth look at the strenuous production process that inevitably brought Werner Herzog's 'Fitzcarraldo' to the screen. Years of struggle and tension amongst the South American natives threaten to derail the film at every turn. The fact that the movie was even finished at all qualifies as a cinematic miracle.
½ August 6, 2011
Makes me want to see the actual film, which I thought wound up being uncompleted, but I guess not. This documentary was interesting but not as good as I thought it would be.
June 27, 2011
I've always been a fan of Werner Herzog and his films, but it's absolutely fascinating to see a film that explores his obsession and passionate filmmaking. While Fitzcarraldo has never been one of my favourite Herzog films, I almost feel like watching it again after seeing that. In many ways this film is a journey into the heart of an immense darkness (at least Herzog sees it that way; in a memorable scene, he contrasts Kinski's interpretation of an "erotic jungle" with one that is chaotic and fornicating, and then documentary director Les Blank contrasts it further with shots of the serene wildlife. Perhaps the beauty of nature is a facade for the chaos within, but the chemistry between the directors is fascinating), and yet it is also a triumph of the will. Herzog painstakingly overcomes the obstacles which hinder the production of his films, which include an extensive dry season, agitated Natives, sick actors and governmental conflicts, among other things. While I would have been interested to have seen the original Fitzcarraldo that Herzog had intended (with Jason Robards and Mick Jagger), Burden of Dreams is so introspective and philosophical in its scope that I'm glad that Fitzcarraldo turned out the way it did.
Super Reviewer
½ May 28, 2011
Somewhere near the end of "Burden of Dreams", Herzog stated that he 'shouldn't make movies anymore' after the emotional, physical and intellectual drain that is "Fitzcarraldo". Of course, Herzog never stayed true to his words as he still kept on generating great films after great films since. But this documentary, capturing the legendary filmmaker's seemingly inexhaustible grasp to his ambitions in the middle of an Andean disillusionment, provocatively shows Herzog in near surrender (his film career) and without regard to the future.

But ironically, throughout the film, Werner Herzog shows an unusually calm demeanor. Looking at the things he is trying to fend off at the time, the likes of turbulent rapids, malicious rumors and political power struggles (not to mention the almost biblical task of moving a steamboat up a hill), a feeling of despair creeping within is not asking much. But he never snapped, at least not on the verge of suicide. Perhaps that's a consolation.

Herzog, known for his deeply tranquil voice (especially in his numerous films where he incorporates poetic narrations), is quite unsurprising in his display of passiveness in an environment that demands otherwise. Hell, he even got shot in the middle of an interview and could not care less. But what Les Blank's "Burden of Dreams" has captured brilliantly is his internal descent into a void of questions and uncertainties. In many sequences, Herzog navigates through the natives' camps, treacherous terrains and dangerous waters seemingly animated by a mission and even carries a smile once in a while. But along those moments, in the middle of each and every scene and triggered by Blank's questions, we hear him speak out.

It's not one of those pedestrian interviews where answers can be immediate, quick and solid. In these particular scenes, with his thick German accent, his words flow out, eloquent, vibrant, even frightening at times. It's a combination of a poet's uncommon inner articulacy, an everyday glib of a wisdom man and the dark, declarative enunciation of a doomsday prophet. And through that, he exposes his mind and soul. A mind that is pessimistic and unsure. A soul that is anxious and insecure. But a wholeness that is awfully determined and focused.

Yes, he can quite see the finish line, but he can't go into a full run. Budget, time constraints, the force of nature, you name it. He is a man of ambition and larger-than-life aspirations and will stop at nothing to put those into fruition. But he can see, in the distance, the looming presence of the inevitability of failure. And it's quite clear.

"Burden of Dreams", although about the agony of filmmaking, can also be seen as a documentary about the generalized significance of personal dreams. "Without dreams we would be cows in a field, and I don't want to live like that. I live my life or I end my life with this project." Herzog said. From that point on, the idea of finishing the film ceased to be merely just associated with the succeeding post-production. It is his ultimate self-affirming test as a filmmaker and as a dreamer. But on one side, it's also his sense of closure. A sigh of relief, if you can still just call it that.

Now, who would think that Herzog's harsh exploits in the wilderness and a psychological flirt between lunacy and megalomania would root out from his consummate, against all odds passion for his craft? Coppola maybe, with Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" on one hand and a gun on the other.

"...I love it. I love it very much. But I love it against my better judgment." Herzog said regarding on what he thinks of the Andean jungle. Maybe if you ask him regarding his devotion to finish "Fitzcarraldo", it will be the same answer. He just wanted it done, with his visions still intact, and more importantly, his sanity.
½ May 23, 2011
An essential companion piece to Herzog's Fitzcarraldo.
May 22, 2011
Love me some Herzog. Fascinating look into the madness of rogue filmmaking.
May 14, 2011
Les Blank's Burden of Dreams is the documentary about the german filmmaker Werner Herzog's incredible journey into the amazon jungle to film his masterpiece Fitzcarraldo. A hard, dangerous and difficult journey, a fight against goverments, against cast and crew and against time. Blank try to focusing much on the native indians who's language and culture is near extinction thanks to a globalizing world, more precisely Americanization, and they are not careful to show us all the coca-cola bilboards and Mickey Mouse T-shirts as a sympol of exactly that. Werner Herzog let himself be interview without any problems and expresses his opinion in front of the camera extreamly good. His not only a filmmaker, but also a poet, a realistic one. The one thing I did surley missed was Herzog's struggel with Klaus Kinksi, he seemed perfectly sane, more sane that Herzog. But that's another documentary called My Best Fiend. Overall this is a great documentary in honor of the dying native people of the amazons, but it isn't great because of the lack of Kinski.
½ April 23, 2011
Questions who's more insane the character of Fitzcarraldo building an opera house in the amazon or Werner Herzog for making the film?
April 3, 2011
Great insight into movie making and the sometimes deranged mind of the director.
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