In our pages: Werner Herzog's 'Fitzcarraldo' diaries
Three years of film director Werner Herzog's diaries have been published in "Conquest of the Useless: Reflections From the Making of 'Fitzcarraldo.' " The difficulties making the 1982 film -- about an opera-loving rubber baron who takes a steamship up the Amazon where it must be hauled over a mountain to reach its destination -- have already been shown in the documentary "Burden of Dreams." In our review, Lawrence Levi writes:
So is there really any need for a book? Levi concludes there is.
The book is also filled with terrifically funny and precise renderings of the creatures that inhabit the film crew's two jungle camps -- ants, bats, tarantulas, mosquitoes, snakes, alligators, monkeys, rats, vultures, an albino turkey and an underwear-shredding ocelot. "For days a dead roach has been lying in our little shower stall, which is supplied with water from a gasoline drum on the roof," Herzog writes in an entry dated "11 July 1979." "The roach is so enormous in its monstrosity that it is like something that stepped out of a horror movie. It lies there all spongy, belly-up, and is so disgusting that none of us has had the nerve to get rid of it."
Herzog was, of course, in the jungle so he could drag a full-sized steamship over a mountain. But moving that cockroach -- too much. Which is pretty phenomenal when you look at what it took to move the steamship, in the movie's trailer, above.
-- Carolyn Kellogg