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.