Burden of Dreams (1982) Movie Script

You wanted to know the story of Fitzcarraldo.
It's a strange story-
a little bit Sisyphus-like story or...
a story of, uh,
challenge of the impossible.
The title itself-
I will start with that -
uh, is derived from
an Irish name - Fitzgerald.
The leading character's name is
Bryan Sweeney Fitzgerald.
And since nobody can pronounce
his name in the Amazon here...
he calls himself Fitzcarraldo, and he also
founds a town with the name Fitzcarraldo.
There was a historical figure whose
name was Carlos Fermn Fitzcarrald...
a caucho baron.
I must say the story of this caucho baron
did not interest me so much.
What interested me more
was one single detail.
That was, uh,
that he crossed an isthmus...
from one river system into another...
uh, with a boat.
They disassembled the boat and -
and put it together again on the other river.
And, uh, that intrigued me to write a story
about big opera in the jungle...
and, uh, about a man
who wants to bring Caruso...
into Iquitos and build
a huge opera house.
And he fails to -
to get the money for it...
and so finally he decides
to make his fortune as a rubber baron.
And, uh, he buys a territory
which is out of reach...
because there are
very, very strong rapids...
and you can't move a big boat
into the upper tributary.
Um, and for exploiting
an area like this...
you need a big boat
for all the logistics and transports and so.
And what he does, actually, is that
he moves in a - in a parallel tributary...
because he knows there
is one geographical point...
where the two river systems
almost join.
There's only
one or two miles in between.
And with the help of, uh,
1,100 savage Indians...
he moves the boat across the -
this mountain ridge.
But it all fails because
the Indians release the boat.
They untie it,
and it floats downstream...
and it crashes through the rapids
and everything was in vain.
And still,
with that defeat...
Fitzcarraldo is able to turn it
in some kind of a victory-
a very painful one, and...
that's basically the story of the film.
I did not know exactly
in which territory I would end up.
Basically we had to make
a geographical decision...
where we had two rivers
very, very near to each other...
with only a mountain in between.
Less than a mile apart.
And they had to be navigable as well.
So we had very, very few options...
and wherever we would end up...
I would try to get acquainted with
the native Indians in the territory itself.
In November, 1979...
Herzog builds a camp for cast and crew...
in the dense tropical rain forest
close to the Ecuadorean border.
The geography is perfect, but Herzog
has walked into the middle of a tense situation.
Twenty-five miles from here, Peru and Ecuador
are building up to a small border war.
Thejungle is full of soldiers,
and the Aguaruna Indians...
who have lived here
for hundreds of years, are touchy.
To make matters worse,
the Peruvian government...
has been encouraging settlers
to move into thejungle-
a process the Indians are powerless to stop
without legal title to the land.
Lumber and oil interests are encroaching
on this part of the forest as well.
The Amazon jungle is disappearing fast.
Every month,
8,000 square miles are cut down.
At the present rate,
by the year 2010...
the entire Amazon basin
will be cleared.
The ongoing invasion of thejungle
has made the Aguaruna Indians...
see every stranger as a threat.
But Herzog assures them
that he's not moving in permanently...
and the local Aguarunas
agree to let him shoot.
Herzog needs Indians
as actors and laborers...
and the Aguarunas
agree to that as well.
From the start...
- they never considered
that the communities here...
Had their own authorities.
They never respected
the organizations that are here.
Although Herzog has reached
an agreement with the local Aguarunas...
he soon finds himself tangled
in a complicated power struggle.
A newly formed tribal council
from downriver...
is trying to establish political leadership
for all the Indian communities in the area.
The council members see Herzog's film
as a perfect opportunity to cement their position.
After shooting the film,
when they take it to Europe...
it could show how the Aguarunas
and Huambisas were exploited and killed...
during the time of the caucho.
It could give that impression.
We don't like that.
That's why we reject it.
Not everyone supports the Aguaruna council.
Although Herzog
is only paying 3.50 a day...
it's twice the going wage
for Indian labor.
- Nelson is one of
the Aguaruna leaders...
who think the Indians should continue working
for Herzog and his producer, Walter Saxer.
The tribal council has put out a warrant
for his arrest, charging him with treason.
Death threats are being made
against him and the film company.
Nelson's mother is frightened.
- What's she saying?
- She says...
that you who work
for the company...
are at fault for what
has happened to Nelson...
because you want
to take him with you.
She doesn't want Nelson to go.
We support Nelson. It's an unjust thing...
and she shouldn't worry.
We'll do all we can to clear up
this situation once and for all.
Nelson can't be guilty.
It's just not his fault.
We'll continue to protect your son.
The rumors
the Aguaruna spread who were against us...
uh, for example,
said that we would cut -
we would dig a canal
between the two river systems -
between Rio Maran
and further up between, uh...
Rio Cenepa and leave the community
of Waiwaim as an island...
which would dry out.
And they spread rumors we -
we would, uh...
slaughter them and take the grease
out of their bodies and cook the grease...
and that we would rape their women
and that we would, uh...
do any kind of harm to them.
There were other rumors by the press
that we were smuggling arms.
That we had -While we were shooting
that we destroyed their fields.
But we are not shooting yet.
There were rumors that, uh,
we had four-
On our demand,
four Aguaruna Indians were arrested...
who were in opposition against us.
Which is a blatant lie.
And it can be checked easily.
Not even the council of the Aguarunas
maintains that anymore.
And then there were
some, uh, agitators here -
Even from Germany
two guys came here eight days ago...
and they brought
a lot of photos with, uh -
from concentration camps
with piles of bodies.
And they had other photos
with them of a- of a tribe-
I don't know yet which one.
And they claimed that I had, uh-
It was my fault...
that this tribe was extinguished
and wiped out.
We are necessary
as an enemy that can be beaten...
because they will not dare
to attack, uh...
the, uh - the military camps.
They will not dare to attack, uh,
the petrol companies...
but since we are small,
we -we may be -
uh, we may be the losers.
Sensing imminent danger, Herzog pulls
most ofhis film crew out of thejungle.
On December 1, 1979,
armed Indians surround the film camp...
and order everyone
who's still there to leave.
When the camp is empty,
the Aguarunas burn it to the ground.
The last members
of Herzog's crew flee downriver...
flying white flags from their canoe.
It takes Herzog 13 months
to find a new location for thejungle camp.
In January, 1981,
filming finally begins in Iquitos...
1,500 miles north of the new camp.
Iquitos is a river port city near
the headwaters of the Amazon in northern Peru...
with a jet airport
and a population of 200,000.
It was originally a rubber boomtown
built at the turn of the century...
when giant fortunes were being made
overnight in the rubber business.
This is the historical period
in which Herzog's film story is set.
The cast features
Jason Robards as Fitzcarraldo...
a poor, charming Irishman
who's obsessed with grand opera.
Fitzcarraldo is determined
to build a great opera house in Iquitos...
where his idol,
Enrico Caruso, can perform.
His first scheme involves trying to convince
Iquitos's high society to finance the project...
but to no avail.
Mick Jagger plays Fitzcarraldo's sidekick...
a simpleminded actor named Wilbur.
Hey! Hey!
Ho! Ho!
- We want the opera in Iquitos!
- We want the opera in Iquitos!
We need opera here!
Don't you want...
- We need the opera in Iquitos!
- Music in your souls?
- In your ear!
- Come! Come and join us!
Momento. Un momento.
And therefore,
since I cannot prove a lover...
to entertain
these fair well-spoken days...
I am determined
to prove a villain...
and hate the idle pleasures
of these days.
Wilbur, you are definitely my man.
Five weeks after filming begins,
with 40% of the picture completed...
Jason Robards comes down with
a bad case of amebic dysentery.
He flies home to recover,
and his doctor forbids him to return to the set.
For Herzog,
this is an agonizing setback.
He'll have to start all over
with a new leading actor...
and his backers are pulling out.
For six weeks, Herzog puts
the entire production on hold...
while he goes looking for another star.
Then Jagger drops out too.
Commitments for a new album
and a concert tour...
make it impossible for him to stay
the extra months needed...
to reshoot the film from scratch.
And I have decided
that I would not replace his part.
You can't replace him.
So I think that's, uh, biggest loss
that I have had in my career...
as someone who makes films.
When I came back to Germany,
and I tried to hold all the investors together...
they said to me,
"Well, how can you continue?
Can you - Uh, do you have the strength
or the will or the enthusiasm or so?"
And I said,
"How can you ask this question? It is -
"If I abandon this project,
I would be a man without dreams...
and I don't want to live like that. "
I - I - I live my life,
or I end my life with this project.
In April, 1981...
Herzog's new leading man,
Klaus Kinski...
arrives at the Iquitos Airport.
And the filming of Fitzcarraldo
starts all over again.
Stop. Stop, stop, stop.
- Bananas!
- Miguel Vzquez!
Come on.!
Miguel Vzquez.! Bananas.!
Cut. Okay.
Fitzcarraldo lives
in the Belen district of Iquitos...
a collection of small houses in the shallow
floodwater at the edge of the Amazon...
that's hardly changed
in the last hundred years.
- I picture from this time -
- Klaus Kinski, the new Fitzcarraldo...
has appeared in more than 150 films.
Everything from Doctor Zhivago
to Herzog's Nosferatu.
This will be the fourth feature
he's done for Herzog.
In this scene, some of the local kids
are waiting for Fitzcarraldo to wake up...
hoping they'll get to hear
one ofhis precious Caruso records.
This is the Nario...
a boat that was built in 1902 in Glasgow.
And we found this boat in Colombia
on one of the Amazon tributaries.
Uh, it was used for-as a steamboat
up and down the Amazon...
and later on it was used
in the, uh, war against Colombia.
As a matter of fact, the peace treaty
was signed on that boat here.
It was very hard to move it here.
As you see, there are many leaks.
We had to fill the whole hull
with empty petrol drums.
And so we kept it afloat,
and we tugged it about, uh...
350 miles up the river,
and we put it here.
And it should be rusty, as it is.
And it will be one of the leading characters
in the picture that we are doing.
Italian film star Claudia Cardinale
plays Fitzcarraldo's lover, Molly...
the madam of an elegant brothel catering to
the wealthiest rubber barons in Iquitos.
She uses her contacts
to help him buy a steamship he needs...
to make enough money
to build the opera house.
Claudia, there is also one thing.
You could easily try to
open one of those doors.
- Yes. This one?
- Yeah. No, not this one.
- This here is closed.
- This one.
This one is closed.
So you can't do -
you can't do any-
- Yeah. No.
- No.
- You shouldn't open that one. Yes.
- I just try to open, but it's closed.
- That's the only one that you should not open.
- Okay.
Of course,
we need another boat going on the river.
And for this reason
we have bought another boat...
which has about the same size,
the same shape of the hull.
The Huallaga,
which was built in 1906.
And we rebuilt the whole boat,
and we repaired the engine...
and we'll need a third boat-
a look-alike.
No one knows how long it's going to take
to pull a real steamship over a hill in thejungle...
which is why Herzog needs three ships.
While one of the ships stays in Iquitos
and another goes over the hill...
Herzog can keep on shooting
with the third ship...
including a crucial scene
in the Pongo das Mortes...
the "Rapids of Death. "
The Huallaga may be destroyed in the Pongo.
We'll try to save it with, uh,
remote control from a helicopter.
I'm not 100% sure whether it will make it.
But I hope because there's
so much work and care and toil in it.
Many, many people have given
their sweat and their...
blood of their heart.
And it's really beautiful.
I- I like the boats very much.
Uh, very close to my heart.
I would like to keep them all.
Did you sail the ship
all the way up the river from Iquitos?
Yes. They had to come from Iquitos
all the way up here...
which was quite hard.
It's a very, very big distance.
Maybe 1,500 miles or 2,000 miles.
Between Rio Urubamba
and Rio Camisea...
we are pulling the boat now.
After shooting in Iquitos...
Herzog moves cast and crew
1,500 miles south...
to his newjungle location
on the Rio Camisea.
From Iquitos,
under the best of circumstances...
it takes a full day
to reach the camp by air...
with the last leg
in a small, single-engine plane...
and over two weeks by boat
when the rivers are navigable at all.
Since Herzog admits he could shoot
most of Fitzcarraldo right outside Iquitos...
some people think
the remotejungle location...
is just another example
ofhis insistence on making things tough.
Herzog claims that the isolated location...
will bring out special qualities
in the actors and even the film crew...
that would be impossible
to achieve otherwise.
The local Machiguenga Indians
are cooperative...
but Herzog's problems
are far from over.
The upper Amazon tributaries are too shallow
for large ships to use unless they're flooded.
Originally, Herzog had planned to shoot
during the rainy season...
when the rivers would have been
high enough for him to move his ships.
But all the delays have thrown him
badly off schedule.
By now the rainy season is over...
and the rivers are falling fast.
He has no choice.
Ifhe waits, the film will collapse.
The film camp is located
in the eastern foothills of the Andes.
It's blazing hot in the sun,
chilly when it clouds over.
People sleep under blankets at night.
Heavy thunderstorms can strike
at any hour of the day or night...
and clothing never quite dries out.
Herzog provides flush toilets,
cold-water showers...
and a noisy electric generator
to power the lights...
keep the beer cold and maintain
a radio link with the outside world.
The only sour note
comes from the radio:
A loud, yammering squawk
that never ceases.
Pucallpa, Camisea.
If you look that way- this is east -
you would, uh, have to walk
2,500 miles until the jungle ends.
That way you would have to walk,
let's say, 2,000 miles.
This way you have to walk,
let's say, 1,500 miles.
And this way you walk
maybe 500 miles until the jungle ends.
Fitzcarraldo plans to finance his
opera house with profits from the rubber boom.
So he befriends Don Aquilino...
an eccentric caucho baron who's already made
millions exploiting rubber trees and native labor.
Aquilino is played byJos Lewgoy...
a leading actor in many
Brazilian TV soap operas.
Is this a rubber tree?
Look how elastic it is.
What do you think is wrong with the rubber?
It either looks
like bread or like shit.
I can't help it.
I can't help it.
Over there. I presume you're -
you're familiar with the market price.
- It's one of my- Here?
- Yeah.
Yeah. Maybe you take that hat -
I - I would suggest that you leave the hat
here when you walk over.
- Okay.
- Leave that hat over here. Yeah.
- Or you can leave it -Yes, yes.
- Oh!
- Because the - the smoke disturbs you. Yes.
- Yeah. The smoke.
- Yeah.
- Okay.
How much do you think
this stinking stuff weighs?
Sixty kilos. And I presume
you're familiar with the market price.
How long does it take
to make one of these?
Three men, one week.
Presently I have a staff of 8,500.
I'm thinking of increasing it to 10.
You know, you're a strange bird...
but I must say I like you.
This is just impossible.
This is impossible.
It's enough to put you to sleep.
Could you look over there?
- Yeah. With the eyes.
- I look there. Yes.
- Yeah. Yeah. This kind of-
- Okay.
- This kind of raving -Yeah.
- Okay.
Let's have a -
Let's have a very wild one.
- Yeah.
- Like this here. Can you find a position? Yes.
- There. Yeah.
- That is a position for the 10,000.
- Okay. Okay.
- The dream is right up at that-at that branch.
- All right.
- Okay?
But I'm thinking of increasing it to 10.
To act in front of a camera
gives me physical pleasure.
That's when I get myself realized.
Otherwise I would be a bank manager.
If- If you remove that pleasure-
If you take this pleasure-
then the- what-
what have you left?
The hardship of doing this film,
which is a very difficult and very hard-
physically hard film to do.
all our equipment and all our resources...
would come all the way from Iquitos.
The next town that you can
call a town would be Pucallpa.
It's half the distance between Iquitos
and Camisea.
And that, of course, is a-
is an enormous trouble
to get even a nail into the camp...
or anything that you need.
The chicken is dead.
- It's dead?
- Yeah.
With the river this low,
the slightest error in navigation...
can run a ship aground.
But when a sudden rainstorm
raises the water level for a few short hours...
Herzog tries a desperate gamble and takes the ship
out onto the river to shoot an important scene.
- We are in trouble.
- What's wrong?
I don't know exactly. The -
The engine is not strong enough.
And we are going backwards,
and we've run on ground.
Here on these rocks.
And the water is sinking.
But if we-if we go into this...
we might lose this boat.
If that gets stuck...
then we can forget about shooting...
for the next maybe half year.
There's nothing wrong with the engine.
There's just not enough ballast in.
See, they took all the stones, all the -
the diesel fuel out to get it over the mountain.
So now it's too light,
and the propeller comes out of the water...
and just, uh -just turns around.
It's -There's no force enough
to push it, you know.
With the ship
run aground in the shallows...
Herzog builds a mock-up
with identical rigging...
in order to continue shooting.
Through a camera lens on the top deck,
it will look just like the real thing.
Are there more people?
Divide everyone up among the empty canoes.
Check again to see if there are any more
brave men who know how to swim and row.
Fitzcarraldo has discovered
a way to reach unexploited rubber trees.
His plan is to pull the ship over a hill...
at a point in thejungle where two parallel rivers
come within a mile of each other.
He steams upriver in search of the overland
passage, but it's a terriblejourney...
and finally he decides to turn back.
Then he sees that Indians have
cut offhis retreat.
Everyone this way!
Be serious.!
Careful! Quickly!
Seora, get inside.!
Sit down, you in yellow.!
Seora, get inside.!
You, seora.! You.!
Everyone look this way.
Seora in the yellow, get a little more in place.
- Should they go back again?
- Don't laugh.
Everyone, all the canoes have to go back!
Go back!
Go back,
and then come forward again.
Everyone back!
Well, some of them come from the area
where we are actually shooting.
Machiguengas from this territory.
But there are also Campas around.
But, um, the...
big amount of Campas
came from a place - Oventeni.
Rio Tambo, Rio Ene.
From this area. Some of them
were flown here to the river...
and came all the way
up on the river in boats.
Some of them were flown in directly...
and some of them-
the people from Oventeni-
whom I like best,
I must say-
they came on foot four days
over the mountains, to the river...
and then they were picked up
and driven to the camp.
- There's no action. No action.
- Well, we're gonna have an interview with you.
I am sitting here.
I am sitting here... very satisfied.
We are waiting at the moment-
waiting for some Indians more...
and waiting for some canoes more...
and when we have some canoes more,
we are waiting for some Indians more more.
That's our problem in the moment.
And in one hour it's too late.
In one hour, it's absolutely too late.
It takes several days to film the scene...
especially since Herzog insists on shooting
during what's known as the "magic hour"...
at the end of the day as the sun sets
and the light turns warm and golden.
Timing is crucial, and Herzog spends
most of the two days waiting for the light.
Twenty arrows against a zoom, huh?
I'm afraid they'll get
more and more bored and suddenly shoot.
"Look at that big guy there
with the weird lens.
Think you can get him?"
"I'll get him.!"
"No, you won't get him.
You're shaking too much. "
"But I'll get him. "
Get the camera and film that.
- No, it's too dark now.
Come on. It'll still work.
It'll still work.
"It'll still work. "
You can't see anything at all!
David, the canoes should stay here.
On the riverbank.
In this case, we will probably have
one of the last feature films...
with authentic natives in it.
They are fading away very quickly.
And it's a-a catastrophe
and a tragedy that's going on.
And we are losing
riches and riches and riches...
and we lose, uh, cultures
and individualities...
and languages and mythologies,
and we'll be stark naked at the end.
We'll end up like all the cities
in the world now...
with, uh, skyscrapers and-
and a universal kind of culture
like-like the American culture.
I don't feel like
doing a documentary on- on the Campas...
and it, uh-it should not end up
as a ethnographic film.
I also stylize them,
and I have them in the film...
as they probably
are not precisely in their-
in their normal life.
They do things
that they normally would not do.
They act in that film...
and that interests me even more.
Yet they have an authenticity
of their culture...
and their behavior,
their movements...
their language in it that, uh...
will just, uh, disappear
from the face of this earth.
I don't want to live in a-in a world
where there are no lions anymore.
Or where the are no people like lions -
and they are lions.
Well, these people are,
uh, watchmen for the night...
because we have, uh,
had an incident with a man who was...
attacked by arrows.
That means there were three people.
His wife, the man and another young man.
And further up that river
you can see here...
and only two hours
by speedboat from here...
this attack occurred, and the man was hit
with an arrow through the throat.
And on the leg.
And his wife was-
was hit three times.
I have not seen her yet.
But apparently here in the hip...
and a little higher.
And that was in complete darkness.
And they were lucky that they had a-
a doctor here and a very good paramedic...
who, uh, operated them immediately.
They will do a raid upstream now, and...
I hope they don't make any contact.
Because if they make contact...
and if something is going on there...
we will probably have a raid
of the Amahuacas down here.
And it's all because the river
is so unusually low.
You can see all these riverbanks. Sometimes
the water went all the way up to that camp...
about six, seven yards higher-
about 20 feet higher or so.
And now, uh, turtles come
to the sandbanks and lay their eggs.
Uh, and the Amahuacas come
very, very far down to dig for turtle eggs.
And that's why this clash came.
But I have also asked for the assistance
of some of the Campas...
which is very unusual because, uh...
Machiguengas here in this area
were afraid of the Campas.
There's always...
a feeling of terror when you speak
about the Campas of Gran Pajonal.
I can't stop them here.
It would be impossible.
I would interfere in their-
How do I say?
In their habits, or in their space of living...
if I kept them back.
And if I let them go - as it has happened
I couldn't stop them anyway-
there might be
a - a more serious incident, and...
it will be all on my shoulders.
I can foresee-
I can foresee a lot of trouble.
And we've had enough-
We've had enough trouble.
I'm - I'm run -
I'm running out of fantasy.
I don't know what else
can happen now.
While the raiding party is away...
Herzog films the traditional game
of arrow catching.
But he fails to get what he wants...
because the best arrow catchers
are upriver with the raiding party.
Aim directly at the head.
Use more force.
Those are the arrows the doctor gave me.
Uh, this one struck the woman here.
It's more or less intact.
She, uh -They are very heavy.
And this point here is damaged
because it hit her here in the hip.
And the arrowhead broke...
and here it cracked open
a little bit on impact.
And that's the arrow -
This is the arrow
that hit the man through the throat.
Here. That came loose.
It's very big feathers.
I think it's, uh, vulture feathers.
And, uh, the arrowhead -
It is very sharp
and very, very-well-pointed.
And there's still some blood on it.
So. They are -They are
some gruesome weapons.
Are you gonna keep the arrows?
Well, yeah. Maybe for my little son.
He will be excited to know
that this went through a man.
But I don't know.
A week later the raiding party returns.
They have made a successful
show of strength without bloodshed.
Life in the camp returns to normal.
Were you
afraid of the gringos when you came here?
No, I wasn't afraid...
because I understood
what they were doing.
My friend Walter
told me it was all lies.
What did they tell you?
That the gringos
would take off your face?
Yes, they'll take off your face...
and use your fat for airplanes.
We're not like theJivaros
who shrink heads this small.
I told him...
I'd rather get out ofhere...
before they do that to me.
When my friends arrived and saw the camps...
they were really afraid.
I told them,
"Don't be afraid. "
They said,
"They're all just waiting to kill us. "
"No, they've been waiting for you. "
Atalaina told them...
"The doctor will give you an injection
and take your blood...
"and put poison in your veins.
You'll die by the time
you get back to your village. "
They were so afraid.
That's not true.
And, " Don't eat too much
of what they offer.
"They give you this much.
Don't eat it all...
because they'll fatten you up
to kill you. "
Eating pork fattens you up.
Not at all.
This scene is the first real contact
between Fitzcarraldo and the natives.
Afterwards, the Indians agree to pull
Fitzcarraldo's ship over the hill.
In Herzog's screenplay,
they think he's some kind of white god...
a kindred spirit who believes,
as Herzog puts it...
that everyday life is only an illusion...
behind which lies the reality of dreams.
Everyone can cough now.
They're hanging around
like a bunch of chickens...
but they're trying to do a good job.
Very good.
Why did you decide to have two, you know,
clearly marked off separate camps...
between the cast and the Indians?
Yeah, there was, um-
There was long discussion about that-
how we should handle it.
And my feeling was
that we should not involve them...
in the kind of problems
that we had here.
In our kind of organization,
our technical things.
Um, besides,
I did not want to have them...
too much contaminated in, uh -
- How do you say? In parentheses.
- Quotes.
Yeah. Yeah. In quotes.
Uh, by Western culture.
They should be among
themselves, and they-
They, for example,
wouldn't like our food...
and it would have caused problems.
And we didn't probably
expect to eat their kind of food.
So, um...
these two camps mark
a very clear distinction...
that I never tried to conceal-
that there is a highly technical
group of people here...
from a different continent...
with a different history behind them...
and another group of native Indians...
who basically is living here
in this environment...
has its own way oflife,
its culture.
The women were getting
madder and madder
As the men got drunk on masato
The men said
"Why don't you drink with us?"
So the women drank some too
They felt so good
they wanted some loving
But the men
were so drunk they couldn't
All through the upper Amazon,
Indians drink masato...
an alcoholic beverage
made from a vegetable called yuca.
It's an important food source,
making up a large part of the Indians'diet.
It's also an essential part of almost
every activity, from morning till night.
In order to chew it...
you first have to peel the yuca.
Then you boil it.
After boiling it...
you put it in the cusho.
This is the cusho?
- Yes, it is.
Then you pound it until it's soft.
After that, you chew it.
- What's chancar?
- What we're doing here.
After pounding it, you chew it.
When it's soft like this...
you add water.
By the next day...
it's fermented.
You strain it with a sieve
and drink it.
So you spit here.
Quiet, please.
- Silencio.
- Silencio.!
Yeah. Yeah.
- Sound.
- Right.
Masato is also a ceremonial
liquor that seals every important agreement.
Fitzcarraldo has been invited
tojoin his new comrades in a ritual toast...
but Kinski is terrified of infection.
The thought of drinking something
that someone spit into is unbearable.
After scrubbing out the bowl
with bottled water...
he pours in canned milk
to substitute for the dreaded masato.
He wants you to drink it.
It's yuca fermented with saliva. Drink.
My God. Time flies,
and we're getting nowhere.
- Oh!
- It doesn't matter. They'll make another one.
No good. It's no good.
Look here, kid.
This is no good.
The Indians agree
to make a few bows and arrows for Kinski.
They accept his payment
of $3.50 an arrow...
the equivalent of a full day's wage.
To the Indians, who can make
20 arrows in a day...
this probably seems like
an extreme overpayment...
until they have to pay the same 3.50
for a single Polaroid photo...
taken by one of the Peruvian workers.
They earn about twice as much here...
as they would earn when
they work in the field somewhere.
In- On Rio Tambo
or somewhere else.
The tractor driver earns, uh...
a good average wage
for a tractor driver here.
But it is no comparison between, uh...
the level of salaries
that we have to pay...
to actors and technicians here
from Europe or United States...
and those people here.
And I think many-
many, many of the things...
should not be counted
and calculated in - in terms of money.
What is much more important
for the natives here...
is that this land here
which has no land title yet...
will belong to them
after we have finished that film.
And, um, to struggle for them, uh...
for the land title for-
for this whole territory-
that no settlers or no oil companies
or no lumber people...
can exploit it
and take it away from them...
that - that is something decisive.
Because Herzog wants to avoid
repeating the situation with the Aguarunas...
he's made a different deal this time.
He's promised the Machiguenga Indians,
on whose territory he's shooting...
to help them get
legal title to their land.
It's much steeper than we thought.
We have to level the ground.
Build a ramp.
And up here...
we have to make a cut
through to the top.
That'll take months.
I hope we have enough dynamite.
Stop, stop.!
- Seores- - Apath is being cut
through thejungle for the ship...
up a steep hill from the Camisea...
across a mile of dense muddy forest...
and down the other side
to the Urubamba.
You have to take the branches...
and throw them aside...
cutting with a lot of-
Can you explain it to them?
Don't rush, but work hard.
I want these thrown to the side.
We must level the ground.
Build a ramp.
And up there...
we have to make a cut
through to the top.
They were furious and declared war.
- Cut.
The bare-asses
believe the earth is a living being.
Did the territory
hold any surprises for you...
that you didn't know about
from your preplanning?
Yes, of course.
Bad surprises.
For example,
that the terrain is not firm...
where we wanted to have
our path for the boat.
It's just completely muddy and wet.
So we had to cut another path...
and that brought us problems because
we had to cut deep into the mountain...
and it's very- very, very tough...
and there were landslides.
Recently, since more than
a quarter of a century...
there hasn't been so much rain now...
and that has brought us
bad surprises.
But basically it is
what I have been looking for.
Today... it went well, but -
I don't know -
I hated the day.
I don't know why.
I have no reason to hate it, but I -
I didn't like that mud up there.
Sometimes I wish to sit
in an easy chair and -
With a cup of tea next to me.
The bulldozer cutting the path through
thejungle uses 150 gallons of fuel a day-
fuel that has to be flown in by lightplane
and ferried up the river in dug-out canoes.
The bulldozer is designed
for tough work...
but Herzog bought it used,
and it breaks down constantly.
Spare parts have to be flown in
all the way from Miami via Iquitos...
and sometimes they're not even
the right parts.
With the topsoil bulldozed away...
heavy rain turns the clay
into deep, slippery muck.
Even when the bulldozer is working, it spends
hours every day sliding helplessly in the mud.
Despite Herzog's high technology,
thejungle is winning.
Most of the Indians
signed on for three months...
but because of shooting delays,
some have stayed six months.
The Indian camp wasn't designed
for such long occupancy.
Sanitation, medical
and food supply systems are breaking down.
Nor are the Indians
used to living in large groups.
Social relations are tense.
That woman there
is single. Those two are sisters.
The wife has reason to be angry because
one of the sisters favors her husband.
You think it's right
that she tell her husband...
"Go with her, then"?
They both want the same man?
No, one of the sisters wants
to fight the wife for her husband.
So they want to fight
like men with fists and all?
- Yes, they do.
- Is the sister saying she'll win because she's bigger?
That's what she says.
They call the other one an "old lady. "
Now my aunt's saying, "Go.!
Now that he's left his wife,
go live with him. "
And who's that girl in the back?
My sister-in-law.
She's also on her side. She's saying...
"Now that I really don't have
my husband, I don't want him.!
I'll leave him. "
Father Mariano Gagnon,
a Franciscan missionary...
comes to look into the welfare
of the Indians from his mission.
The Indians are bored,
morale is low...
and some of the latest arrivals have had to
leave their wives and families behind.
On top of everything else,
the only soccer ball in camp has a hole in it.
We can't solve the problem...
of their being confined
to such a small area.
Secondly, we can't solve the problem...
of their wives and families
not being here.
We can certainly solve the problem
of the medicine, the sanitation.
As for the masato,
we'll talk to the others.
- The soccer problem is very serious.
- Their not having masato is a problem.
Who's going to make it for them?
The women make masato.
If the women from their own tribes
aren't here, they can't have masato.
Another woman from another group
can't make masato for them.
That would compromise the tribe.
It's part of their culture,
and it's just not done.
That's a problem.
There's nothing really serious.
It's just little things.
But I'm sure a lot of them
could be straightened out.
The film crew is just as bored as the Indians.
A series ofbulldozer breakdowns
and heavy rains have slowed filming to a crawl.
People amuse themselves
as best they can...
but below the surface,
anxiety and frustration are high.
If we would work
from the morning to the evening...
- Yeah.
- that's fine.
That's fine.
You- You have to do something.
You have to move, you know. But now we're
just sitting and sitting and sitting around. So-
You can't go anywhere.
You can't go -
You can't escape
of this fucking stinking camp...
because you never know
when they call you.
Because you have to be here
because you're paid for it.
You are under contract,
so you can't just go.
It means you're completely
captured here.
Completely. You go from there to there
and from there to there.
That's all that you can do.
So, of course, it's -
At least you have this view.
Instead of-
Instead of something else.
And you feel you're right in thejungle...
which is a good feeling,
you know.
Ay, ay, ay.
- Nice?
- Really nice, isn't it?
What do they do that with?
What? The tattoo?
They do it with a needle.
- Doesn't it hurt?
- Just a little.
What do the wings mean?
- The wings and the heart.
- They stand for love.
It's not your sign, is it?
No, it's not my sign.
Do you want a tattoo?
- Yes, on my leg.
- Your leg?
I agreed to have them here...
because even the Dominican padre here...
advised me very strongly
to have them here.
Because, as you know,
in the neighborhood...
we do have two, uh, native villages -
Machiguenga villages.
Shivancoreni and Camisea.
And if after months and months...
of having these people here
in the - in the camp - all the workers -
mestizos and white people -
uh, they might go after the women
down in the - in the villages...
and that would -
would really cause problems.
So, even the Catholic priest has advised us
to have some - some ladies here.
You have two children?
- Yes, two children.
- How old are they?
- One is eight months old. The other is three years old.
Did you get into this profession
because you liked it?
No, out of necessity.
Not because I liked it.
If it was because I liked it...
I'd find a man and spend my time
with him and fulfill my needs...
if it was for my pleasure.
But it's not that.
I do it out of necessity.
When you would ask me, uh...
to have a prostitute in my, uh-
on my shooting location in the United States
or in Germany, it would be ridiculous...
but here, uh...
it is standard expectation
and standard behavior...
and somehow the -
I don't know.
The -The jungle sweats it out.
It's not even ob-obscene.
It is, uh...
probably some fertility
or whatever...
that's going on here in thejungle.
Be careful when we hit
so you don't fall off.
Well, the boat that Fitzcarraldo
actually pulled across was only 30 tons.
- Yes.
- And how big is your boat?
Besides, they, uh, disassembled it
in about 14 or 15 parts...
and carried these parts individually
across a mountain.
And, um...
I find it much better to -
to leave it intact as it is.
Like this here.
And you can tell the difference -
that this is not a plastic boat
and that this -
that this slope here is no -
no joke at all.
The central metaphor of my film...
is that they haul a ship over
what's essentially an impossibly steep hill.
If I lose that by using a level terrain...
like the Panama Canal...
I lose the central metaphor
of my film.
For this reason, we don't agree.
As I've said,
I'd like to take a bit greater risk...
than what you advise.
Laplace Martins, a Brazilian engineer...
has worked out a complicated system
to pull Herzog's ship over the hill...
with cables, pulleys and the bulldozer.
But the system is designed
for a 20-degree slope.
Herzog insists on 40 degrees.
The system has already failed once.
Martins is afraid people will die
if it tears apart again.
About 60 men will work on this big capstan.
This is one of the places
of greatest potential danger.
If the tractor pulls loose
from the pulley system...
one of the cables could break...
and the pulley could wind up here.
And if the ship begins
to slide backwards...
it will drag all this with it.
And if there are people here...
and if for some unfortunate reason
they can't jump clear...
or jump from here to there,
which is lower ground...
they'll run the risk of getting hit.
This winch could hit this one...
this one could hit this one, and so forth.
It would be a real catastrophe.
To be safe, let's all stay here...
until the post is secure.
We need someone very
responsible who will always be by the post...
ready to warn us
if anything goes wrong...
and stop the work immediately
if there are any signs...
that the post can't hold out.
Otherwise, four, five, or six people
could lose their lives.
- Many more.
- More?
He says that more than five would die.
If there are 60 people, how many could die?
They could all fly offlike a rocket.
He says they would all fly offlike rockets.
Yeah, if the thing pulls out.
- Then 20 or 30 would die.
Martins quits.
Herzog decides to continue without him.
There's a 30% chance...
a 30% chance they'll do it.
Does that mean a 70% chance of catastrophe?
Yes. It could be a catastrophe.
What do you think
about pulling a ship over a mountain?
They won't be able to do it...
because it's not small.
If it were a tiny little boat,
they could do it quickly.
But since it's huge,
the cables could pull out and kill us.
Besides, it's a three-story boat.
Who could push such a big ship...
when we can't even pull a canoe?
Are you afraid
something will happen to you with the boat?
They're afraid of losing their lives.
If we have to push the boat...
the owner should be there
behind it too.
If we die, he should die too.
Why should we die
and not the owner?
Jorge, some people are missing!
Everybody out of here.
Quick! Quick!
Out of here! Get them out of here!
Quick! Come on!
Out! Out!
Give it a go!
Pull it.!
Try again!
It works.
It works!
It works!
- But it didn't work.
- Something broke.
What everyone has feared has happened.
A massive metal coupling
has snapped in half...
and the ship slides back
to where it started.
- It fell?
- Yes.
Right here.
Look at him.
What do I do now? Jump in the water?
Then get some lunch.
Wash yourself off a little.
Herzog is stranded in thejungle
with a 300-ton steamship that won't move...
and time is running out.
He needs money to move the ship,
but no one will invest unless the ship moves first.
Behind his back, some of the actors are talking
about getting out while the getting is good.
Only a few of the cast, crew and Indians
believe in his dream anymore.
Even Herzog is beginning to wonder.
Of course, we are challenging nature itself...
and it hits back.
Itjust hits back. That's all.
And that's grandiose about it.
And we have to- to accept that
it is much stronger than we are.
Kinski always says it's full of...
erotic elements.
I don't see it so much erotic.
I see it more full of obscenity.
It's just-
Nature here is vile and base.
I wouldn't see anything erotical here.
I would see fornication
and asphyxiation...
and choking
and fighting for survival...
and growing and...
just rotting away.
Of course, there's a lot of misery.
But it is the same misery
that is all around us.
The trees here are in misery,
and the birds are in misery.
I don't think they- they sing.
They just screech in pain.
It's an unfinished country.
It's still prehistorical.
The only thing that is lacking is-
is the dinosaurs here.
It's like a curse
weighing on an entire landscape.
And whoever...
goes too deep into this...
has his share of that curse.
So we are cursed
with what we are doing here.
It's a land that God,
ifhe exists...
has-has created in anger.
It's the only land where-
where creation is unfinished yet.
Taking a close look at -
at what's around us...
there - there is
some sort of a harmony.
It is the harmony of...
overwhelming and collective murder.
And we in comparison to
the articulate vileness...
and baseness and obscenity...
of all this jungle -
Uh, we in comparison to that
enormous articulation -
we only sound and look like...
badly pronounced
and half-finished sentences...
out of a stupid suburban... novel -
a cheap novel.
And we have to become humble...
in front of this...
overwhelming misery and...
overwhelming fornication...
overwhelming growth...
and overwhelming lack of order.
Even the- the stars up here
in the-in the sky look like a mess.
There is no harmony in the universe.
We have to get acquainted to this idea that...
there is no real harmony
as we have conceived it.
But when I say this, I say this all
full of admiration for the jungle.
It is not that I hate it.
I love it.
I love it very much.
But I love it against my better judgment.
Once again, Herzog pushes on
in the face of disaster.
Leaving a small crew
to work on moving the ship up the hill...
Herzog takes the second
look-alike steamship...
a full day's journey downriver
to the Pongo de Manique...
the most dangerous rapids in Peru.
In the film,
after the Indians pull the ship over the hill...
there's a giant drunken party...
and Fitzcarraldo passes out
in his cabin.
While he sleeps,
the Indians release the ship.
They have a dream of their own...
in which they sacrifice the ship
to the river gods.
Fitzcarraldo stumbles on deck
to find himself crashing through the rapids.
His dream is shattered.
Beautus, look here.
This is how you can stop it again.
It must play in the beginning
so that the scene starts with music.
Is that a gramophone needle?
No, it's a regular old sewing needle.
What else can you see?
You can't get a sound
out of it anyway, Klaus.
- Paul.
- Yeah.
- Good luck.
- You too.
If you fall, I'll catch you, Thomas.
Let's go. Let's risk it.
Everyone ready?
The engine.! Cholo.!
Klaus, come over here.! It was okay. Watch out.
It really came up fast.
The background went by incredibly fast.
- I'm afraid he ran out too soon.
No, the background went by too fast.
- Klaus, come on.
- The engine.! Cholo.! The engine.!
We have to bandage Thomas up.
Okay, we have someone here to do it.
It's not that serious.
Did you hurt yourself?
Your temple is cut open,
and your hand too. Believe me.
You have my best blood.
It's too bad, Klaus...
that you ran away before it hit.
But that was the whole idea!
I'm not an idiot!
It flew forwards and the lens -
Look, the lens flew off!
That was the whole idea!
The rocks came closer and closer...
And in the panic I screamed-
"The engine.! The engine.!"
Then there was a crash,
and the lens flew off...
so it isn't a question of timing.!
Before Herzog can
get the ship back to camp...
it runs aground on a sandbank.
He can't film the final scenes in Iquitos
without the ship...
so he has to wait for the rainy season
to flood the river and lift it off the sand.
But as month follows month
in the longest dry season in recorded history...
the ship remains stuck.
The other ship is stuck too-
at the bottom of the hill.
In fact, the whole film is stuck.
If I believed in the devil,
I would say the devil was right here...
and is still right here.
It becomes very questionable
because, uh...
people have lost their lives.
People have been in a plane crash,
and five of them in critical condition -
one of them paralyzed.
And those are all the costs
that you have to pay.
It could have hit me...
or anyone.
And one starts to question the -
the profession itself.
What are your plans when this
movie's all over? What are you gonna be doing?
I shouldn't make movies anymore.
I should go to a lunatic asylum right away.
But I don't know.
It's, uh -
Very much of it is - is too crazy
and too, uh -
Just not - not what a man
should do in his life all the time.
And I feel, uh -
If- Even if I get that boat over the mountain
and somehow I finish that film...
anyone can congratulate me
and talk me into finding it marvelous.
I - Nobody on this earth
will convince me to be happy about all that.
Not - Not until the end of my days.
Herzog's film ends with Fitzcarraldo
achieving a victory of sorts.
He sells his battered steamship
and makes just enough money...
to bring a small-time opera troupe
to Iquitos for a single performance.
In the end, Herzog won
a painful victory ofhis own.
After months of work, using heavier equipment
and a new engineering crew from Lima...
he pulled the ship to the top of the hill...
and in November, 1981...
almost four years
after preproduction began...
the last shot of Fitzcarraldo
was completed.
It's not only my dreams.
My belief is that
all these dreams are-
are yours as well.
And the only distinction between
me and you is that I can articulate them.
And that is what poetry or painting
or literature or filmmaking is all about.
It's as simple as that.
And I - I make films because...
I have not learned anything else.
And I know I can do it
to a certain degree.
And it is my duty...
because this, uh...
might be the- the inner chronicle
of what we are.
And we have to articulate ourselves...
otherwise we would be
cows in the field.