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Total Count: 27


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German filmmaker Werner Herzog has never done anything by halves. When Herzog tackled Fitzcarraldo, the story of an obsessed impresario (Klaus Kinski) whose foremost desire in life is to bring both Enrico Caruso and an opera house to the deepest jungles of South America, the director boldly embarked on the same journey, disdaining studios, process shots, and special effects throughout. The highlight of the story is Fizcarraldo's Herculean effort to haul a 300-plus ton steamship over the mountains. No trickery was used in filming this grueling sequence, and stories still persist of disgruntled South American film technicians awaiting the opportunity to strangle Herzog if he ever sets foot on their land again. In the end, Herzog proved to be as driven and single-purposed as his protagonist, and it is the audience's knowledge of this that adds to the excitement of Fitzcarraldo.


Klaus Kinski
as Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald
José Lewgoy
as Don Aquilino
Paul Hittscher
as Capt. Orinoco Paul
Grande Otelo
as Station master
Peter Berling
as Opera Manager
David Perez Espinosa
as Chief of the Campa Indians
Milton Nascimento
as Man at Opera House
Rui Polanah
as Rubber Baron
Salvador Godinez
as Old missionary
Dieter Milz
as Young Missionary
Bill Rose
as Notary
Leoncio Bueno
as Prison Guard
Ceriano Luchetti
as Soloist in Opera Sequence
Costante Moret
as Soloist in Opera Sequence
Dimiter Petkov
as Soloist in Opera Sequence
Jean-Claude Dreyfus
as Soloist in Opera Sequence
Mietta Sighele
as Soloist in Opera Sequence
Lourdes Magalhaes
as Soloist in Opera Sequence
Isabel Jimines de Cisneros
as Soloist in Opera Sequence
Liborio Simonella
as Soloist in Opera Sequence
Jesus Goiri
as Soloist in Opera Sequence
Christian Mantilla
as Soloist in Opera Sequence
Miguel Camaiteri Fernandez
as Ashinka-Campa Chief
Nicolas Camaiteri Fernandez
as Ashinka-Campa Chief
Pascal Camaiteri Fernandez
as Ashinka-Campa Chief
View All

News & Interviews for Fitzcarraldo

Critic Reviews for Fitzcarraldo

All Critics (27) | Top Critics (5) | Fresh (21) | Rotten (6)

  • "Fitzcarraldo," the latest production from German director Werner Herzog, appears to be an advanced case of directorial self-absorption and self-glorification.

    May 5, 2017 | Full Review…
  • Herzog charts an ironically circular course around an indulged, benevolent Aguirre; perversely illuminates colonialism with surrealism; and demonstrates once again in his always suspect yet somehow irresistible way that 'only dreamers move mountains'.

    Nov 17, 2011 | Full Review…

    Paul Taylor

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • The film may have been intended as an ironic comment on the absurdity of human ambition, but it's an irony that explodes in Herzog's face.

    Feb 9, 2007 | Full Review…
  • As a document of a quest and a dream, and as the record of man's audacity and foolish, visionary heroism, there has never been another movie like it.

    Oct 23, 2004 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
  • It's a stunning spectacle, an adventure-comedy not quite like any other, and the most benign movie ever made about 19th-century capitalism running amok.

    May 20, 2003 | Rating: 4/5
  • In between the limits of a curious, original, and unexpected work, Fitzcarraldo drags because of its excessive duration. [Full Review in Spanish]

    Aug 26, 2019 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Fitzcarraldo

  • Apr 12, 2015
    An intriguing though at times very plodding film concerning a very ambitious man (Klaus Kinski) who is inspired to try to build an opera house in the jungles of South Africa. Director Werner Herzog does a fabulous job capturing the lower-class and primitive working status of these areas, but wisely avoids this being an exercise of "fish out of water" with Kinski's character. The film does go on too long, but it does remain interesting even when it starts to lose steam in the middle portions. Kinski's bug-eyed bewilderment and passion are perfect for this character, and he is the biggest reason of all this film is a success and viewed by many people to be a masterpiece.
    Dan S Super Reviewer
  • Jun 26, 2013
    "Fitzcarraldo" should be viewed as a sort of companion piece to "Aguirre, the Wrath of God." It, too, focuses on a character that heads downriver in search of fulfilling his hopes and dreams, yet it isn't as unforgiving nor does it end as harshly. What makes "Fitzcarraldo" such an enjoyable and undemanding watch is the amount of time given to flesh out such a simple story and how quickly the two-and-a-half hours fly by. Klaus Kinski had a rather remarkable talent of looking insane but always delivering a very controlled and understated performance.
    Stephen E Super Reviewer
  • Aug 10, 2012
    It still hasn't ended...
    Jonathan H Super Reviewer
  • Mar 03, 2012
    **** out of **** Some people can't make their wildest dreams come true simply because they don't try hard enough. Laziness is an essential part of human nature, yes, but who are we to say that we cannot overcome it? Werner Herzog understood this and was inspired by an Irishman who went by the name of Fitzcarraldo; a resident of Peru, but not necessarily a native. It was this inspiration that led to the making of one of his biggest and most deeply-felt motion pictures yet; "Fitzcarraldo", named after the underappreciated man who was a rare dreamer who sought to make his romanticized visions of heroism and fame reality. I've not seen many films where a dreamer had to endure quite as much as the titular Fitzcarraldo - or Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald, if you prefer the name he was born to, or Fitz, as his adoring mistress called him -. But then again, that's the magic of a Herzog film; he can take you to places you've never been to or seen before, for prolonged periods of time, and immerse you in the people that find themselves there. Herzog is a dreamer; this is his grand spectacle. As the film opens, a man dressed rather fancily in white hat and coat approaches an Opera House with a woman that he has brought along with him. He is Fitzcarraldo (Klaus Kinski), and the woman is Molly (Claudia Cardinale); and they have just come a long ways to see a single show. They are allowed into the House, and we finally understand why Fitzcarraldo was so desperate to attend the performance. After the show, he confronts wealthy individuals who he anticipates might be potential investors or curious parties in regards to his dream - to build a giant opera house in Iquitos, where he is living at the moment. Fitzcarraldo loves the opera, and he allows the music to enter his body at will and circulate right through it; it wouldn't be too hard to believe that he might just have what it takes to turn his passion into something more, something bigger, and something of far greater importance than a mere obsession. The rich scoff at his dreams, spit in his face, socially; and say he will never succeed in achieving his goals. Fitzcarraldo isn't ready to believe this, but he accepts the reality of the situation; you need money, and you need a lot of business partners. Those are two things that he lacks, and so he cannot build the opera house quite yet. But, he is determined; and so he seeks out resources in the way of Peru's most profitable industry, rubber. Sadly, rubber trees are limited, and he must seek them out for himself if he wishes to make any money off his findings; he will need transportation, and plenty of members within a work force. That is where the iconic steamboat comes in; an impressive vessel that Fitzcarraldo purchases and renovates so that he can make the trip into dangerous territories (and rapids) in order to access the rubber trees. He rounds up a crew, and in no time, he's on his way. But the waters that he treads are deep and apprehensive. The area is infamous for the primitive tribes that inhabit the shores; perhaps because they haven't let a single soul pass yet. But maybe Fitzcarraldo and his interest in the grand Opera will work a sort of magic on these underdeveloped beings; and so it does. He plays the music once they have invaded the steamer, and almost instantaneously, they sink into a deep, hypnotic trance. Now, they work for Fitzcarraldo and company. But the question still remains: will the boat and the crew be able to survive the unrelenting rapids of the region? Will the rumored spiritual and more diabolical forces be at work, thus preventing the vessel from completing its journey? I don't have all the answers, or at least I don't have a good deal of them for you now, but that's mostly due to my desire to spoil at little about the film as possible. It's the kind that has to be experienced; the same goes for most of Herzog's earlier (and even later) works. He's an incredible man, and this is an incredible movie; it surpasses the level of mere movie magic. It is inspiring, but all too real to resonate with the mainstreamers that typically fall head over heels in love with its kind. The production was reportedly tense; and it tested the heart and soul of both Herzog and Kinski, who was said to be an unpleasant person to work with, at times. It is said that Kinski would overreact about silly matters off-stage, and that his rage upset the extras that were playing the Indian tribesmen-and-women of the film. But you know what they say: some of the best movies are not easily made, and such is the case here. Though the production and filming were both apparently heart-wrenching in their own little ways, the movie was completed, and so was the steamboat's journey. By the end, we feel both happiness and sadness; happiness, because we have just experienced an honest and down-to-earth portrayal of a mad dreamer, and sadness, because he almost returns home empty-handed. Although then, Herzog makes a bold move and adds on to that conclusion with a few absurd but uplifting images; in which a much happier and more uplifting ending is supplied. The quality of the film doesn't necessarily matter; as you probably already know it even if you haven't yet seen the actual movie in its entirety. Kinski is, as always, riveting; and Herzog's direction is typically fearless, and his images genuinely moving. Being a film that spans two hours and a half in length, this is a sprawling epic that makes use of one location and many provocative, resonant sights. It's a very scenic sort of movie; not unusual for Herzog, who loves nature and just about everything about it, and I loved how he made use of the wildlife of Peru, such as pigs and fish that will eat large wads of cash. There are also horses that drink beer; although it's a known fact that the creatures love that stuff. Nevertheless, my point is this: Herzog is in touch with all his inner feelings here, and this is one of my all-time favorites, not only from him, but from cinema in a whole. It's a definitive masterpiece that should just about sum up what I love best about the movies; all in due time. There is a documentary on the making of the film titled "Burden of Dreams"; the title defining the message of "Fitzcarraldo". I will see that documentary; because I could use a better understanding of a film that comes with such divine and impeccable whimsy.
    Ryan M Super Reviewer

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