Conquest of the Useless: reflection from the making of Fitzcarraldo
A vision had seized hold of me, like the demented fury of a hound that has sunk its teeth into the leg of a deer carcass and is shaking and tugging so frantically that the hunter gives up trying to calm him. It was the vision of a large steamship scaling a hill under its own steam, while above this natural landscape soars the voice of Caruso...One of the most revered of contemporary filmmakers, Werner Herzog kept a diary during the making of "Fitzcarraldo", the lavish 1982 film that tells the story of a would-be robber baron who pulls a steamship over a hill to access a rich rubber territory. Later, Herzog spoke of his difficulties when making the film, including casting problems, reshoots, language barriers, epic clashes with the star, and the logistics of moving a 320-ton steamship over a hill without the use of special effects. Fitzcarraldo was hailed by critics around the globe, and won Herzog the 1982 Outstanding Director Prize at Cannes. "Conquest of the Useless", his diary on his fever dream in the Amazon jungle, is an extraordinary glimpse into the mind of a genius during the making of one of his greatest achievements.
Werner Herzog grew up in a remote mountain village in Bavaria. He never saw any films, television, or telephones as a child. During high school he worked the nightshift as a welder in a steel factory to produce his first film, in 1961, at the age of nineteen. Since then he has produced, written, and directed more than fifty films, including Aguirre, the Wrath of God; The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser; Rescue Dawn; and Grizzly Man. He lives in Los Angeles, California.