Skip to content

Directed by Werner Herzog

Germany 1982 158 mins.

Fitzcarraldo remains one of the cinema’s most enduring tales of man versus nature, both onscreen and (famously) in production. Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald, nicknamed “Fitzcarraldo” by the South American natives among whom he lives, is an eccentric visionary who dreams only on an epic scale. Already bankrupted by a Trans-Andean railroad scheme, he next decides to build a world-class opera house in the middle of the Peruvian jungle. To raise the funds, he plans to harvest a grove of rubber trees made inaccessible by nearby rapids. His solution: to introduce a modern steamship to the unruly waterway by dragging the entire vessel overland—a feat which Herzog himself, in true Fitzcarraldo fashion, obstinately accomplished without the aid of special effects or miniatures.