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Conquest of the Useless: Reflections from the Making of Fitzcarraldoby Werner Herzog
Much like the man himself, Werner Herzog's journal from the filming of Fitzcarraldo is hallucinatory and horrific, lovely and poetic all at once. This is a book about madness and obsession, about depth and illusion, about a place where nothing is as it seems. Filled with darkness and light, it's the story of a vision so contradictory and shifting it becomes life itself. I've stayed in Iquitos on the Amazon, and this is by far the most honest, accurate description of the place I've ever read. In fact, I've never read so honest a description of any place.
Synopses & Reviews
Werner Herzog is one of our most revered contemporary filmmakers, a visionary director who ceaselessly tests the boundaries of art. Fitzcarraldo, his lavish 1982 film about a would-be rubber baron who pulls a steamship over a hill to access a rich rubber territory, was hailed by critics around the globe and won Herzog the 1982 Outstanding Director Prize at Cannes.
The text of Conquest of the Useless emerged as if out of an Amazonian fever dream: the crew's camp in the heart of the jungle was attacked and burned to the ground; the production clashed with a border war; two planes crashed during filming; and Herzog had to unravel the logistics of moving a 320-ton steamship over a hill without the use of special effects.
More than just a journal or diary of the shooting of Fitzcarraldo, Conquest of the Useless is a work of art unto itself, which charts the inner landscapes born of the delirium of the jungle and offers an extraordinary glimpse into the mind of a genius during the making of one of his greatest achievements.
"Those who haven't encountered Herzog on screen will undoubtedly be drawn in by the director's lyricism, while cinephiles will relish the opportunity to retrace the steps of one on the medium's masters." Kirkus Reviews
One of the most revered filmmakers of our time, Werner Herzog wrote this diary during the making of "Fitzcarraldo," the lavish 1982 film that tells the story of a would-be rubber baron who pulls a steamship over a hill in order to access a rich rubber territory. Later, Herzog spoke of his difficulties when making the film, including casting problems, reshoots, language barriers, epic clashes with the star, and the logistics of moving a 320-ton steamship over a hill without the use of special effects.
Hailed by critics around the globe, the film went on to win Herzog the 1982 Outstanding Director Prize at Cannes. "Conquest of the Useless," Werner Herzog's diary on his fever dream in the Amazon jungle, is an extraordinary glimpse into the mind of a genius during the making of one of his greatest achievements.
“Hypnotic….It is ever tempting to try to fathom his restless spirit and his determination to challenge fate.”
—Janet Maslin, New York Times
Werner Herzog (Grizzly Man) is one of the most revered and enigmatic filmmakers of our time, and Fitzcarraldo is one of his most honored and admired films. More than just Herzogs journal of the making of the monumental, problematical motion picture, which involved, among other things, major cast changes and reshoots, and the hauling (without the use of special effects) of a 360-ton steamship over a mountain , Conquest of the Useless is a work of art unto itself, an Amazonian fever dream that emerged from the delirium of the jungle. With fascinating observations about crew and players—including Herzogs lead, the somewhat demented internationally renowned star Klaus Kinski—and breathtaking insights into the filmmaking process that are uniquely Werner Herzog, Conquest of the Useless is an eye-opening look into the mind of a cinematic master.
About the Author
Werner Herzog grew up in a remote mountain village in Bavaria. He never saw any films, watched television, or had a telephone as a child. During high school, he worked the night shift as a welder in a steel factory in order to produce his first film, in 1961, at the age of nineteen.
Since then, he has produced, written, and directed more than fifty films, including Aguirre, the Wrath of God; The Mystery of Kaspar Hauser; Rescue Dawn; and Grizzly Man. He lives in Los Angeles, California.
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