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Burden Of Dreams (Criterion Collection)

Werner Herzog , Klaus Kinski , Les Blank    Unrated   DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Burden Of Dreams (Criterion Collection) + Fitzcarraldo (Widescreen)
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For nearly five years, acclaimed German filmmaker Werner Herzog desperately tried to complete the most ambitious and difficult film of his career-Fitzcarraldo, the story of one man's attempt to build an opera house deep in the Amazon jungle. Documentary filmmaker Les Blank captured the unfolding of this production, made all the more perilous by Herzog's determination to shoot the most daunting scenes without models or special effects, including a sequence requiring hundreds of natives to pull a full-sized, 320-ton steamship over a small mountain. The result is an extraordinary document of the filmmaking process and a unique look into the single-minded passion of one of cinema's most fearless directors.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Definitive "Making Of" Documentary July 13 2005
By any standards, "Burden of Dreams" is unforgettable. It's a documentary about director Werner Herzog's attempts to make his film "Fitzcarraldo." A difficult project, Herzog, filming in Peruvian jungles, actually had his native workers pull a steamship over a mountain (with a 70% chance of catastrophe), among other insanities. Also on display are scenes of Jason Robarbs and Mick Jagger in "Fitzcarraldo" before they had to quite (fascinating, and an indication of how different the movie might have been if Klaus Kinski hadn't starred). As mad as he is, Herzog somehow comes across as someone to root for, and "Burden of Dreams" actually winds up being a more interesting portrait of crazed determination than "Fitzcarraldo."
The DVD from the Criterion Collection lives up to their mighty standards. The 1.33:1 image looks surprisingly good for a documentary, with only a bit of grain and very few scratches. Of the many extras, the best is the short film "Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe," a bizarre 20-minutes of clearly displeased Herzog doing just that (to fulfill a bet). It's quite funny, in an odd way, and it's use of the song "Ol' Whisky Shoes" is memorable. Also included is a commentary by director Les Blank, editor Maureen Gosling, and Herzog; a new interview with Herzog (he doesn't seem to have changed much); photo galleries; deleted scenes, which include Klaus Kinski going on a profane temper tantrum (perversely fascinating); and a trailer. Interestingly, a booklet of Gosling and Blank's diaries from the "Fitzcarraldo" set come with the package. It's almost enough to forgive the ludicrously high Criterion price tag.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, if less emotional than I expected Sept. 26 2012
By K. Gordon TOP 50 REVIEWER
I really enjoyed this. It’s a fascinating meta look at film-making.

An obsessed, driven director (Werner Herzog) is trying to make an almost impossible film about an obsessed, driven man
trying to do the same impossible thing the film-maker is trying to do – drag a 320 ton boat over a mile of forest.

Most people see this as an out-and-out masterpiece, which makes me feel I need to see it again. I found it always
interesting, but less emotionally compelling than two other great films about difficult filmmaking dreams gone awry;
‘Hearts of Darkness’ about the making of ‘Apocalypse Now’ and ‘Lost in LaMancha’ about Terry Gilliam’s never
completed ‘Man of La Mancha’ film. There’s a distance in this film that worked to a point, but kept me from being
emotionally caught up in Herzog’s dream, or fully understanding it.

The Criterion Edition also contains Les Blank's wonderful 20 minute short "Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe". In it's
quirky, funny way I find this has more to say about the need for madness and art to co-exist than the main
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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  35 reviews
48 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A vision you can sink your teeth into July 19 2001
By Anita - Published on Amazon.com
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
Or maybe it will sink its teeth into you. The most compelling dreams are not neat and tidy and are not easy to understand, not even by the person who has and fulfills the dream. That's the case with Werner Herzog's dream of filming the story of Fitzcarraldo. If you liked that movie, this documentary is a must-see, a fascinating look at all the problems Herzog had during the making of the movie. The film is not just about the obvious difficulty of moving the steamship over a mountain in the middle of a jungle. First, there are problems with local Indians that cannot be resolved and so the first location must be abandoned. At the new location, with 40% of filming complete, the star of the movie Jason Robarbs becomes sick and goes home to recover. His doctor forbids him to return. Then Mick Jagger drops out because he can't stay the extra months needed to reshoot the film. (I was disappointed that there was only a minute or two of footage showing Robarbs and Jagger).
Back in Germany, Herzog's investors ask him, Do you have the strength or the will or the enthusiasm to continue? He replies, "How can you ask this question? If I abandon this project, I would be a man without dreams. And I don't want to live like that." Filming continues and there is one more delay and problem after another. Herzog has three ships so he can shoot at different locations and two of them run aground, due to low river levels and the driest season in years. The film does a good job of showing both Herzog's reactions to these problems and his determination to continue in spite of huge financial and personal costs.
Most of my criticisms have to do with the limitation of films generally, namely that I wanted to know alot more about this story. I wanted to understand more of Herzog's complex relationship to the jungle, I wanted to understand why he continued to try moving the ship after his engineer walked away and predicted that people might be killed. I wanted to see more of Herzog in action and have a more intimate glimpse of his creative process. But for a ninety minute documentary, I basically can't complain, it did the job of telling the story of the making of Fitzcarraldo.
29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Herzog fans REJOICE! March 14 2005
By Kippered Herring - Published on Amazon.com
First, Anchor Bay gave rain to our parched Herzog-loving throats with the release of many of the eccentric German maestro's greatest feature films. And now, Criterion offers Les Blank's astonishingly beautiful and gloriously weird documentary on the desperate creation of one of those classic titles, Fitzcarraldo. A production that started off starring Jason Robards and Mick Jagger wound up with the director threatening to murder star Klaus Kinski if he walked off set! See Herzog obsessively orchestrating the movement of an entire steamboat over a treacherous mountain in Peru! No special effects for this master.

"Without dreams we would be cows in a field, and I don't want to live like that. I live my life or I end my life with this project." If every filmmaker thought this way, do you think we'd have to sit thru Son of the Mask?

As a five-star added bonus, we get "Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe," a brilliant short doc by Blank which chronicles Herzog actually cooking and devouring his boot after promising Errol Morris to do so if Gates of Heaven was ever completed! Herzog also uses the opportunity to declare war on American television!

God bless Criterion - here's hoping they follow up this exciting release with some unavailable Herzog docs like La Souffiere, Dark Glow of the Mountain, or Wings of Hope, and some other Les Blank rarities like Garlic is as Good as Ten Mothers and In Heaven There is No Beer...
29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic behind the scenes film Jan. 13 2000
By Philip Brubaker - Published on Amazon.com
Format:VHS Tape
Fans of Apocalypse Now or Hearts of Darkness should check this out. It is a documentary detailing the madness Werner Herzog went through in making his film Fitzcarraldo in the jungle. This movie is great because it shows how Herzog's struggles in making his movie parallel those endured by the main character in Fitzcarraldo. Both figures attempt to drag a huge riverboat literally over a mountain in the middle of the Amazon. If you enjoy behind the scenes documentaries or believe in man's obsessive nature, you should see this.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mesmerizing Account of the Filmmaking Process May 14 2005
By David Baldwin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Prior to viewing "Burden of Dreams" I had this preconceived notion that this film was akin to "Hearts of Darkness", the documentary about the making of "Apocalypse Now" where the megalomaniacal director slowly goes mad after countless delays and on-set disasters. To the contrary, director Werner Herzog comes off as a rational artist who, despite the setbacks he encountered during the making of "Fitzcarraldo", soldiers on to see his vision come to fruition. Documentarian Les Blank gives a full-bodied account of the elements that Herzog had to contend with from the volatile nature of the film's setting in the Amazon to dealing with the indiginous tribes who were crucial to the film. Blank meticulously documents the production from it's shaky beginnings to it's end. You get the feeling that Herzog had probably entered this project with great enthusiasm but was relieved some five years later to be done with it. I haven't seen "Fitzcarraldo" in a number of years and it had slight resonance to me. You be the judge as to whether all the energy and resources expended in this endeavor was worth it. Not to be missed, Criterion includes a short subject from Blank, "Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe" which demonstrates Herzog's integrity in keeping a bet with budding filmmaker Errol Morris. There is also a recent interview included with Herzog where he gives his account of events during the making of "Fitzcarraldo" but is at pains not to denigrate Blank's document.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but not as impressive as it once seemed July 20 2005
By Trevor Willsmer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Following the astonishing trail of disasters Werner Herzog faced making 'Fitzcarraldo' on location in Peru - including tribal wars, a seriously ill Jason Robards' departure after 40% of the film had been shot, one ship running aground due to low rainfalls and another obstinately refusing to move up the mountain - Les Blank's famous and once groundbreaking documentary has dated badly.

It's an excellent portrait of Herzog's obsession and the growing madness surrounding the shoot, but it's more a catalogue of catastrophes rather than a candid view of the shoot: although unused footage was shot of Kinski's tantrums, the star and director's relationship is all but ignored and you tend to get the feel of a superior travelog giving the official version (a lot of the other real crises happen offscreen). There's plenty of absurdity on view, such as prostitutes being brought to the native workers camp on the advice of the local Catholic missionary, but 'Hearts of Darkness' it ain't. But you can't help but admire the way that, unlike Fitzcarraldo, who falls prey to the dreams of the natives he thinks are working for him, Herzog manages to cling on to his dreams and ultimately triumph, incorporating each new on-set disaster into his film.

No complaints about Criterion's DVD treatment - the extended theatrical version of the documentary in a beautiful print with commentary, a new 39-minute interview with Herzog, a couple of deleted scenes that were used in Herzog's own doc 'My Best Fiend,' trailer, copious stills gallery and a book with substantial extracts from production journals. An excellent companion piece to 'Fitzcarraldo,' but it probably has less appeal to those not so interested in the film.
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