|2301 feet of rugged wilderness|
I entered the ranger station and I seemed to surprise the ranger on duty.
|"My God, Steve, you're insane."|
I guess I lost it. I hit him in the eye and took off.
|"At least bring some DEET."|
There were problems with the expedition from the start. There were people in the way, asking what this film has to do with nature's fury. All Herzog films do, to some extent, I said. "The Great Ecstasy of the Sculptor Steiner," for example, has a man whose job is literally to remold bits of earth and who tries to defy gravity, ice and air in order to fly from the Olympic ski jump. In this film, the hubris of a man who thinks his will can overcome all obstacles nature can put in his way is explored.
|"Why doesn't this film have Bruno S.?"|
What I don't get, I guess, is that bit about the railway. In the beginning, it's mentioned that Fitzgerald (the title comes from the locals' mispronunciation of his name) had tried to build a railway across the Andes and failed. This means that there is some point when the hero has stopped before, so why does he keep pushing on in this film? Is his crazy goal to build an opera house and bring Caruso there so much more important than the railway was? Why didn't he abandon his plan, dismantle the boat and have the boat carried across the pass piecemeal, as happened in real life - oh yes, this was based on a true-ish story.
|Okay, things could be worse.|
The slope was steeper in places than I remembered, and people had left refuse in the way (do not litter in the state parks). "That slope may look insignificant but it's going to be my destiny."
|Looks like they're putting in a chairlift.|
I should've brought solar panels, or at least a smaller generator. Oh crap, I forgot the gasoline at the bottom of the last rise.
The point of moving the boat over land is because there was a tract of fertile land that couldn't be reached by boat, but two rivers came close to each other (except for the mountain that separated them), so a huge profit could be made if this land could be put into production.
|Looks navigable to me.|
|Maybe not. And this is 30 miles off course, as well.|
Why didn't I listen to the ranger? The bugs here are relentless! It's the deer flies, mostly, and DEET does nothing against them. At least they don't carry diseases and there aren't any leeches; both of those were encountered in making "Fitzcarraldo." Also, not having natives trying to kill me is a plus.
|I spoke too soon.|
Can you count the breaking of ropes and winches as the fury of nature? The power of river rapids? The indigenous people revolting? Insanity? We have entered strange territory, indeed.
|The summit. That really is my shoe (and hairy, muddy knee).|
The question that stays with me, though, is: what if Caruso said no?
Day 4... or 5 (maybe 6). The route down, I figured, would take no time at all. I was wrong. Wrong enough, in fact, that the trees changed color.
"Fitzcarraldo" was the first Herzog film I saw, the only one I saw in a theater and is still my favorite of the 13 of his that I've watched. The cinematography is breathtaking. The story is harrowing, almost like "Le Salaire de la Peur" ("Wages of Fear,") but with psychological tension matching physical danger. It is the best acting Kinski did, though one wonders how much he was acting and how much was real.
|"Huh. I didn't think Steve could do it, did you?" "He could still die."|
So, in conclusion, Fitzgerald says in the film, perhaps to me as well:
"Sir, the reality of your world is nothing more than a rotten caricature of great opera"
Now back to reviewing bad films!