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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent film, but a shame about the subtitling
Nearly a quarter of a century on, Fitzcarraldo has lost none of its impact. One thing which makes it still stand out so much today is its reality - not the plot, which takes a small incident from forgotten history and exaggerates it into a grandiose epic on the reality of dreams, but the fact that, with the exception of what appears to be one superior model shot in the...
Published on 23 July 2006 by Trevor Willsmer

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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Faulty subtitles and bonus disc
The subtitles on this DVD are faulty. Often whole sentences are omitted, making it impossible to follow conversations. The beginning of a sentence is nearly always present, but after it ends, with an ellipsis, the subsequent subtitle doesn't appear, even though a character continues talking. This happens regularly throughout the film and quickly renders it...
Published on 18 Jun 2009 by S. Palmer


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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent film, but a shame about the subtitling, 23 July 2006
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Fitzcarraldo [1982] [DVD] (DVD)
Nearly a quarter of a century on, Fitzcarraldo has lost none of its impact. One thing which makes it still stand out so much today is its reality - not the plot, which takes a small incident from forgotten history and exaggerates it into a grandiose epic on the reality of dreams, but the fact that, with the exception of what appears to be one superior model shot in the rapids sequence, everything you see is done for real. A real ship dragged over a real mountain by real extras in a real location. In the CGi era, it's almost like watching a documentary, with Herzog literally BECOMING Fitzcarraldo as he acts out his dreams for real.

For all the fireworks between Kinski and Herzog, they bring the best out of each other: Kinski is every inch the obsessed dreamer and you really believe he HAS to bring opera to the jungle in a way that you simply can't imagine Jason Robards pulling off (Robards left the film after falling ill: from the brief extracts of his scenes with Mick Jagger to appear in the documentary Burden of Dreams - not included on the single-disc version but available separately from Criterion or in the two-disc edition from Starz - it was a blessing in disguise for the film). What's more, by the end of the movie, you really feel that Fitzcarraldo has earned his small triumph, and the wondrous smiles on the faces of Kinski and Claudia Cardinale prove that cinema's greatest weapon is the human face.

It's just a shame that Anchor Bay's DVD misses several key lines in the subtitles from the superior German version, which meant skipping back the DVD to play it with the inferior English dub to catch the missing lines before switching back to German again, a sad blemish on an otherwise excellent disc that's repeated on the two-disc reissue from Starz that uses the same master.

Unlike the previous release from Anchor Bay (Starz is the company's new name rather than a new label), the two-disc edition does come with the infamous feature-length documentary about the making of the film, Burden of Dreams, although none of that film's copious extras to be found on the US Criterion DVD.

Following the astonishing trail of disasters Werner Herzog faced making Fitzcarraldo on location in Peru - including tribal wars, a seriously ill Jason Robards' departure after 40% of the film had been shot, one ship running aground due to low rainfalls and another obstinately refusing to move up the mountain - Les Blank's famous and once groundbreaking documentary has dated badly.

It's an excellent portrait of Herzog's obsession and the growing madness surrounding the shoot, but it's more a catalogue of catastrophes rather than a candid view of the shoot: although unused footage was shot of Kinski's tantrums (and can be seen in Herzog's documentary My Best Fiend, not included here), the star and director's relationship is all but ignored and you tend to get the feel of a superior travelog giving the official version (a lot of the other real crises happen offscreen). There's plenty of absurdity on view, such as prostitutes being brought to the native workers camp on the advice of the local Catholic missionary, but 'Hearts of Darkness' it ain't. But you can't help but admire the way that, unlike Fitzcarraldo, who falls prey to the dreams of the natives he thinks are working for him, Herzog manages to cling on to his dreams and ultimately triumph, incorporating each new on-set disaster into his film.

An excellent companion piece to 'Fitzcarraldo,' but it probably has less appeal to those not so interested in the film.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Faulty subtitles and bonus disc, 18 Jun 2009
By 
S. Palmer - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
The subtitles on this DVD are faulty. Often whole sentences are omitted, making it impossible to follow conversations. The beginning of a sentence is nearly always present, but after it ends, with an ellipsis, the subsequent subtitle doesn't appear, even though a character continues talking. This happens regularly throughout the film and quickly renders it incoherent.

The problem with the bonus disc, which contains the Burden of Dreams documentary, is more superficial. The icon which is supposed to show you which option you are choosing is absent from the main menu, and it appears in the wrong places on the scene selection menu, e.g. half on the picture of a scene and half off of it.

I had to return this DVD because of its subtitle problem. I contacted the DVD's maker, Anchor Bay, about its faults but didn't receive a response.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great film, however..., 18 July 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Fitzcarraldo [1982] [DVD] (DVD)
This is a fantastic film, but one small word of warning - the subtitling on the DVD edition is terrible. Jumpy and with large parts of conversation missing, the subtitles mar what is an otherwise flawless film, and as such I was forced to deduct a star in the rating.
I would still highly recommend this film, a dazzling picture about one man's overwelming desire to bring his vision to life - an opera house in the South American jungle.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Faulty Subtitles, 12 May 2011
Im a great fan of this film - but have never gotten round to buying the DVD, until now. At the low price, I thought it was a must - however, the films subtitles are apauling - with subtitles missing from single lines to entire scenes, it simply makes the film impossible to watch, let alone enjoy.

Will be replacing with a copy from another stockist.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an european epic, 20 July 2000
By A Customer
fitzcarraldo is probably the most epic film ever to come out of europe.klaus kinski replaces mick jagger & jason robards in the lead role which he was born to play. borrowing loosely from herzog's previous 'aguirre' and conrads 'heart of darkness' this is by all accounts a truly stunning piece of film making. herzog's severely focused direction brings out all the intensity in his leading man and with the strugggle of controlling an indigenous population and the practicality of raising the ship makes fitzcarraldo a truly uplifting experience
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully artistic, wonderfully rendered, powerfull, 26 Dec 2001
By 
D. M. York (Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
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I will admit that this film was forced on me as I watched it as part of a German film module at University, and though many of my fellow students did not warm to this film, I certainly did.
This is an epic. Special effects are redundant in this film as much of what actually is done is not a work of simulation but it was actually performed. The cover of the video shows a sail barge being hoisted over land - that was actually done! So much of this film will just stop you in your tracks and think "wow" at just the scale and grandeur of the filming project.
You have to appreciate Operah to appreciate this film, though one way or another if you ever love anything so much that you would want to reshape the land then you will understand and love the sentiment that this film contains.
I loved this film, and though essentially it is a tragedy, unlike most tragic films the ending burns with triumph and finishes leaving you thinking that even things that at first seem impossible are at least worth attempting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars px24, 5 Oct 2011
If you like the combination of Klaus Kinski and Werner Herzog films you will know what to expect. Not quite run of the mill, the feel of friction, good scenes well shot, and 'an I've never seen other films quite like this' feel to it. the plot is a chap sailing a steam ship up a river, then having it dragged over an hill. If you want an unusual evenings entertainment with some classical music added into it, go for it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fitzcarraldo video (1982), 2 May 2011
This review is from: Fitzcarraldo [1982] [DVD] (DVD)
I had tried for a very long time and in lots of places to get this video and 'hey presto' Amazon came up with the goods. Not only was it at a very acceptable price but was delivered within 48 hours right to my door. Excellent service. Many thanks indeed.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Heroic Failure, 21 Feb 2009
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Time can do strange things shifting perspectives on a great movie. Twenty-seven years on from its first release, we now watch "Fitzcarraldo" almost inevitably with the destruction of the rainforest, the exploitation and genocide of indigenous people, and the threat to the ozone layer in mind. What once was an unqualified epic celebration of a crazy dreamer now invokes horror at what he is doing, and his fellow robber/rubber barons inspire nothing but disgust. To indicate the shift in attitudes, when I watched this with my partner recently, he cheered when the indians cut the ship adrift to send it to its destruction.

Not only is the film about failure, failure to set up the trade network which will finance the opera house, failure to build the opera house, it is also about a pointless failure. At the end of the film Fitzcarraldo spends the money he makes from selling the boat back to the man he bought it from originally on bringing an opera company up the river from Manaus to Iquitos. And while it is greeted with smiling enthusiasm by all and sundry, you can't help wondering why he didn't use his brothel-keeping girlfriend's money to do this in the first place.

This is not to detract from the extraordinary intensity of Klaus Kinski's importance, or from the bravura sequences on the Amazon and raising the ship across the mountains. But it puts it into a different perspective, and, it has to be said, highlights the longueurs of the opening section, with far too much time spent on a cardboard Claudie Cardinale. Abd it also makes the ending more satisfactory as an artificially-manufactured feel-good one.
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5.0 out of 5 stars a bit of a drag? (in a good way, of course), 4 July 2014
By 
Stanley Crowe (Greenville, SC) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Fitzcarraldo [1982] [DVD] (DVD)
Keats wrote many Odes, but he didn't write an "Ode to Extravagance," so Werner Herzog wrote one instead, filmed it, and called it "Fitzcarraldo." And that's what the movie's about, and it is, one suspects, in Herzog's mind, what movies in general are about -- and maybe what all art is about too. Opera has been called "the extravagant art," so there's a rightness about this movie's protagonist being an opera enthusiast, a man determined to bring to a rubber-trading town in the middle of the Peruvian jungle an opera house, and Caruso to sing in it. At the end of the movie is a striking scene -- a gathering of townspeople and some indigenous people standing on the bank of a river cheering. Cheering what? An enormous waste of money (which is another meaning of "extravagance").

The film strongly suggests that human beings are perhaps defined as human by their taste for extravagance, and in this movie, that taste is seen as transcending cultural difference. "Why do they help us?" Fitzcarraldo asks his few remaining crew members, unable to fathom why the indigenous people that have followed them upriver (and who have killed and shrunk the heads of earlier intruders) should go to the enormous trouble of getting Fitzcarraldo's 300+ ton boat hauled up a hill, down the other side, and into an adjoining river? The answer is perhaps that they are enchanted by the extravagance of the idea. One could equally well ask the same question about Molly (Claudia Cardinale), the bordello-owner and Fitzcarraldo"s lover, who bankrolls his cockeyed scheme -- and who is on the riverbank cheering like crazy at the end. Exuberance might be beauty, as Blake says, but extravagance on this scale can look like madness, and Klaus Kinski as Fitzcarraldo lets the implication of madness hover over the whole enterprise. That said, the film is finally a comedy -- Fitzcarraldo doesn't get his opera house built, but he gets a performance put on and it's seen quite uncritically as a kind of triumph -- maybe even a triumph of culture over nature, if that isn't pushing the significance a bit far.

Let me mention a couple of other things that struck me, and then offer one caveat: first, and obviously, the scenes of the process of getting the boat over the hill are just riveting. Herzog, famously, actually had a real boat dragged over a hill in the jungle and shot it. That's called walking the walk if you believe in extravagance, and he pulled it off with incredible success. These images are powerful (and the whole film is beautifully shot) and Herzog takes his time over the process -- it's the heart of the movie, after all, and in itself represents an extravagant challenge that Fitzcarraldo seems to embrace almost as an end in itself. The second striking feature is the clarity, in these same central scenes, with which Herzog makes it clear that Fitzcarraldo and his crew have no clue about what the indigenous people are doing. When one of the tribesmen is killed as a result of a failure of the winches, his fellow-tribesmen stand and look at the river for two days, then most of them disappear, their faces pained black -- only to return and go to work again. How their behavior related to the loss of their comrade (and we assume that it is connected) we and Fitzcarraldo never really know. And then, amazingly, there they are at the end, cheering a scene from Bellini's "I Puritani"!

My caveat concerns the historical circumstances under which the rubber trade was carried out in South America at this time -- and the rubber trade is at the heart of the European wealth in the movie that Fitzcarraldo seems to want to spend extravagantly. The indigenous peoples at the time were exploited and very badly treated in other ways by the big, state-supported commercial rubber companies. Sir Roger Casement, the Irish rebel who died for his part in the 1916 Easter Rising, was honored with a knighthood for his diplomatic work, in the course of which he publicized the horrors of the rubber trade where indigenous peoples were concerned. He saw it first hand in The Congo and in Peru. Fitzcarraldo is an Irishman (his name is really Fitzgerald), and clearly he doesn't care about profit for profit's sake, but nor do we get any sense of the exploitation that underwrote the enormous financial successes of the Europeans in the region. So there's a sentimental impulse at work here that occludes a reality of the rubber trade and that can't help but darken one's response to this arresting and adventurous piece of film-making.
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Fitzcarraldo [1982] [DVD]
Fitzcarraldo [1982] [DVD] by Werner Herzog (DVD - 2002)
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