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Burden Of Dreams (Criterion Collection)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Werner Herzog, Klaus Kinski, Claudia Cardinale, Jason Robards, Mick Jagger
  • Directors: Les Blank
  • Writers: Werner Herzog, Michael Goodwin
  • Producers: Les Blank, David R. Loxton, Kathy Kline, Tom Luddy
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, DVD-Video, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English, German, Spanish
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: Criterion
  • Release Date: May 17 2005
  • Run Time: 95 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0007WFYB6
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #12,418 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Product Description

Burden of Dreams (The Criterion Collection)

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By J. Pinkerton Snoopington on July 13 2005
Format: DVD
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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By K. Gordon TOP 50 REVIEWER on Sept. 26 2012
Format: DVD
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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 39 reviews
32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Herzog fans REJOICE! March 14 2005
By Kippered Herring - Published on
Format: DVD
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...
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Mesmerizing Account of the Filmmaking Process May 14 2005
By David E.Baldwin - Published on
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.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Les, Firing Anything but Blanks! Aug. 29 2006
By Shaun Anderson - Published on
Format: DVD
Les Blank's documentary is much more than just a making of Werner Herzog's FITZCARRALDO, which is what makes it important and interesting. Like Herzog's own documentaries which blur the boundaries between fact and fiction Burden of Dreams often slips into the realm of a feverish fantasy world. A world in which sanity is far less important than fulfilling dreams and which death and danger are accepted bedfellows. Often FITZCARRALDO becomes immaterial as Blank eye for local detail picks out strange images or centres on exotic looking birds or insects. It exists in a continuum of its own, precariously balanced within the bizarre politics that surrounded FITZCARRALDO'S production and also outside of this melting pot. In many ways it has outlived the film it is chronicling and instead of gratuitous shots of Klaus Kinksi raving we have shots of local customs and portentous doom laden interviews with Herzog. The film is secondary to Herzog, who comes across as driven and perhaps a little insane, affected by paranoia, he sees the jungle and creation itself as an enemy, something to be feared and loathed. He has become the apotheosis of his own movie world and myth making process, the marginalized loner, the outsider.

Unfortunately amid the excitement, we really only get Herzog's side of events and the documentary seems unduly biased in this direction. Nobody else is interviewed, which makes the film seem a little unbalanced. Despite this bias in Herzog's direction he still emerged from FITZCARRALDO and BURDEN OF DREAMS with his reputation in tatters. This is an outstanding piece of work, which shows the film-making process at its most extreme edges.

Criterion's DVD is one of their best. A superb 40 minute interview with Werner Herzog is the sets highlight, but also of note is Blank's brief documentary WERNER HERZOG EATS HIS SHOE, to have this included is a precious bonus
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Interesting, but not as impressive as it once seemed July 20 2005
By Trevor Willsmer - Published on
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.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Into the Wild July 31 2010
By Amaranth - Published on
Format: DVD
"Burden of Dreams" is an electrifying documentary about the making of Fitzcarraldo. Like the fictional character Fitzcarraldo who is driven to open an opera house in the Amazon rainforest, so is director Werner Herzog driven to make an epic in the rainforest. He faces tribal feuds, Jason Robards bowing out due to illness, and Mick Jagger leaving to make the album Tattoo You (Reis). Production is constantly delayed... and there's the matter of getting a steamer over a mountain.

"Burden of Dreams" takes you into the forests of Herzog's psyche. He feels a deep kinship with Nature and the natives. Unlike James Cameron in the "save the rainforest" Avatar, Herzog doesn't romanticize Nature. He goes into stream of consciousness over "fornication, obscenity, killing"--a very gloomy Teutonic sense. He has an immense amount of passion over his production. Production starts in 1979--and the whole movie production goes way over the usual allotted time. Watching the documentary, one is amazed that "Fitzcarraldo" made it to the screen at all. It's almost like a doomed Terry Gilliam production.

"Burden of Dreams" is a perfect companion to Herzog's other great movies--such as Grizzly Man,about Timothy Treadwell, who died in the Alaskan wilderness, or the mad Aguirre, the Wrath of God, again set in the rainforest, also starring Klaus Kinski. "Burdens of Dreams" shows that in the dream factory of the movies, there are sometimes haunting nightmares.