Herzog’s masterfully poetic study in obsession marshals the forces of cinematic tone to their fullest. An eccentric entrepreneur and budding opera impresario (the mad and magnetic Klaus Kinski) determines to build an opera house in his backwater Amazonian settlement in the late-19th century. To do so, he buys a region abutting an Amazon tributary where he can cultivate rubber plants so that he can profit from the rubber boom and, hence, amass the funds to build his dream house, with Enrique Caruso there to inaugurate it! Klaus Kinski is flat-out mesmerizing–a madman playing a madman. The redolence and lushness of the Amazon is richly evoked. There are moments here you’ll never see on-screen anywhere else–only here do you get to see a massive steamboat getting hauled up a mountainside by Amazonian tribals working winches while Herzog’s monomaniac hero serenades the jungle with his recordings of Caruso on a phonograph perched atop the boat. Awesome, hypnotic storytelling, Fitzcarraldo finds this director working in top form.

Grade: A

Directed by: Werner Herzog
Screenplay by: Werner Herzog
Cast: Klaus Kinski, Claudia Cardinale, José Lewgoy, Miguel Ángel Fuentes, Paul Hittscher


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