Combustible Celluloid
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With: Werner Herzog, Klaus Kinski, Claudia Cardinale, Jason Robards, Mick Jagger
Written by: Michael Goodwin
Directed by: Les Blank
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 95
Date: 05/30/1982

Burden of Dreams (1982)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Gawk Opera

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Les Blank's Burden of Dreams, about the making of Werner Herzog's Fitzcarraldo, is, astoundingly, better than the thing that inspired it. Whereas Herzog's (very long) movie is more ponderous and plodding, Blank's movie gets the insanity back into the story. It begins as the troubled production loses its original stars, Jason Robards and Mick Jagger, and begins reshooting with Klaus Kinski, who had worked with Herzog on the great Aguirre, the Wrath of God. But the kicker is the scene in which Fitzcarraldo — who wishes to build an opera house in the jungle — must drag his ship over a hill to continue his journey. Herzog, in a fit of artistic pique, decided to actually film the ship being dragged over the hill. The concept turns into chaos as Blank's camera looks on. Better still are the occasional interviews with Herzog, who, as ever, is a great speaker and storyteller, and he almost justifies his incredible choices.

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