Fitzcarraldo is well over two hours, and of what I know of the list any film that seems exceedingly long for its subject matter is usually classified an epic. This isn’t really an epic, though; aside from the running time, the only thing epic about this film is the scale, and in that it is epic enough for any other category. It tells the story of a portion of one man’s life, here played by Klaus Kinski; a man who, simply put, loves the opera more than life itself. Not just his life, but the lives of many others to boot.
Like most of Werner Herzog, this film adores its subject matter, in this case the Amazon and its various agriculture. The film is very dirty and gritty in its presentation, and in this it is well done if otherwise unremarkable. It’s what the film does that is the remarkable part. The film plays coy with its premise for the first hour or so, before revealing its plans and setting forth on one of the most ambitious undertakings in cinematic history. And boy, is it impressive, once you realize the scope of what the film actually does to accomplish its needs.
The film is also one of the worst offenders of overdubbing I’ve seen in the list yet, which is quickly becoming my personal pet peeve of cinema; this time, though, it is due to the film being made in English and then later dubbed over with German, so if you have an English audio track the film might be a bit better off for you, but for me it was just distracting the whole way through.
This film is on the list more than anything because of what a mammoth achievement it was to film it. Werner Herzog must’ve been incredibly bullheaded to put forth this production, achieve it, and get away with it. If at all possible, I hope the crew members all got consolation prizes that said “I survived Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo, and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt”. The film itself is an incredible experience as a result of all their tireless effort, and certainly one that earns its spot on the list. Whether it is entertaining for you is a matter up for debate, but it is a film that you will be hard-pressed to forget once you’ve seen it.
Arbitrary Rating: 8/10