Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Wonder Of Werner

Guess what? I'm doing a mini-Herzog festival!

The liberating concept of acquiring used DVDs of esoteric classics is something hard to resist. First up: 'Fitzcarraldo'.

What a deep joy this picture is! So rich, so giving, so much to grab on to! I saw it when it first came out, but I swear, the DVD viewing was better and more meaningful for me. Perhaps because I am mature enough for it now. Plus, back in '82, cinema was populated with much more exciting product, so 'Fitz', which was derided for being indulgent, didn't stand out so boldly, despite its utterly bold premise.

I'm so glad Kinski got the part. Jason Robards, in the first version, is an institution, but nothing can match Kinski's grandeur and facial expressions and enlightened optimism, so perfectly wedded with edgy sweat in an out of muddy reality.

And what could be a happier screen relationship than Claudia Cardinale's and Kinski's ecstatic approach to life? Every moment they share is zestful, passionate and mutually understanding and supportive. What a refreshing concept!

Even the one fakey bit - the quite reasonable decision to capture the boat's passage down the rapids in miniature, has a compelling sweetness to it. The giant water drops look like protective nectar that will see the ship through, in spite of all threats.

(Spoiler follows:)

And what a triumphant ending - not an anticlimax at all, as Fitzcarraldo does indeed bring opera to the city in the jungle, as he promised.

Next: 'Nosferatu'!

1 comment:

  1. big!pink!fuzzy!cinephile!March 12, 2009 at 12:51 PM

    Hadn't as yet taken in any Herzog - but very much wanting to see "Even Dwarves Started Small" for starts. From what I understand, much like Soderbergh, he tends to skirt the precipice between art-house and the mainstream. Heard a little rumor about an upcoming collaboration between WH and our esteemed Mr. Lynch (incidentally, just returned from a nostalgic revisitation to that peculiar and at times most terrifying Pacific NW hamlet of Twin Peaks - some wonderful retrospective interviews with directors,cast & crew included in the supplementals).