Dir. Werner Herzog, 1982
Herzog is often mocked for his Germanic depression, but he is just as capable of showcasing man’s triumph as his hubris and defeat. As Strozek has Kaspar Hauser, as Grizzly Man has The White Diamond, so Herzog’s legendary tragedy Aguirre, the Wrath of God has the soaring Fitzcarraldo.
Klaus Kinski plays the titular character, a failed railway entrepreneur mooching off his wife and obsessed with bringing the opera to the roadless, isolated, Amazonian rubber foundry of Iquitos. To accomplish this, he buys a seemingly inaccessible parcel of land rich in rubber, cut off by rapids on one side and hostile natives on the other. His secret plan? To get to the land by dragging his boat over the mountainous narrows between two rivers.
This film is as famous for it’s awesomeness as for its troubled production, which lasted four years, cost the lives of two labourers, and saw the departure halfway through of the movie’s original star, Jason Robards. However, it is impossible to imagine Fitzcarraldo without Kinski or the unconscionable effort on the part of Werner Herzog to make this film against all odds. In both the story and its creation, the human spirit triumphs; but the thing about the human spirit is that there’s more than one. A+