Werner Herzog’s Notes on “Fitzcarraldo”

Some excerpts from Werner Herzog’s Conquest of the Useless, detailing the making of his Fitzcarraldo in the jungles of Peru:

A fairly young intelligent-looking man with long hair asked me whether filming or being filmed could do harm, whether it could destroy a person. In my heart the answer was yes, but I said no. Screenshot (190)A drunk spat at the monkey and almost hit him from behind. The monkey inspected and sniffed with great interest at the globule from the depths of an unhealthy lung, as it lay on the ground, greenish yellow and steaming. I said silently to him, Leave it, leave it alone, and he let it be.

The thunderstorm held off all afternoon, but then descended far off over the rain forest, sweating and steaming, as if out there an enormous, violent rape were being carried out. Screenshot (182)I had a violent, absurd quarrel with (Klaus) Kinski about his mineral water, with which he washes himself now. Suddenly Kinski started yelling again…calling Sergio Leone and Corbucci rotten vermin…Fellini a bungling idiot, a fat bastard.

This turkey, this bird of ill omen, is a pure albino, so it is quite a sight when it fans its great white wheel, spreads its wings, whose tips trail to the ground and puffs its feathers. Snorting in bursts, it launched several feigned attacks on me and gazed at me with such intense stupidity emanating from its ugly face. I pulled a feather out of its spreading rear end. Now the turkey’s sulking. Screenshot (195)Tumors form on the trees. Roots writhe in the air. The jungle revels in debauched lewdness.Screenshot (185)When I went into the forest to take a shit, a pig followed me , snuffling and waiting with shameless greed for my shit. Even when I threw sticks at it, the animal only took a few symbolic steps backwards.

“Blue is the Warmest Color”: Just Another Film That Needs an Editor

While Abdellatif Kechiche’s Blue is the Warmest Color received controversial press for its stark portrayal of sexuality, the film’s only real problem is in its self-indulgence. Screenshot (276)Choked with scenes of endless dancing, staring into space and, yes, sex, the film needs an editor; at over an hour too long, the film’s essential moments and images are lost in the ego of the author. Lea Seydoux, Abdelatif Kechiche and Adele Exarchopoulos with their Palme d'OrOf course Kechiche is not alone in his onanism; many an excellent director has fallen victim to believing that everything shot is sacred, including Spike Lee’s Malcolm X, Martin Scorsese’s The Departed, Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo, Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now Redux, Lars von Trier’s Nymphomanic, Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining and Michael Cimino’s infamous Heaven’s Gate. heavens gateThis is to say nothing of the glut of Hollywood monstrosities such as Titanic, The Lord of the Rings and all of the superheroes piled atop each other.darkknightIt’s the simpler things that ring true, such as a director listening to his inner voice: “Cut!”