Sunday, February 19, 2006

Cinematic Dreams and Nightmares

by Les Blank

Les Blank’s remarkable documentary Burden of Dreams follows Werner Herzog during the making of his film Fitzcarraldo which tells the story of a man who wants to bring opera to the jungle. Herzhog is a fearless filmmaker who sets almost impossible challenges for himself and with Fitzcarraldo he decided to shoot in the middle of the jungle and to also pull a boat over a mountain. A real boat over a real mountain. The documentary provides a fascinating glimpse into the process and the place where the filming happens. It’s much more than a “making of” documentary as we watch incredible human struggles that are built around the making of a film and Herzog’s remarkable vision for a film.
The special features on the DVD are great as well with an update with Herzog 20 years later as well as Les Blank’s short film “Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe”, which happened as a result of a vow that Herzog made to Errol Morris. The vow was made when Morris told Herzog of a film that he wanted to make and Herzog said that if he made the film he would eat his shoe. Errol Morris made his first film, Gates of Heaven and Herzog cooked and ate his shoe. Herzog is a man of his word and a singular filmmaker.

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