Burden of Dreams by Les Blank 94min

Screens on 30th August, 2000 in the End Room of Frasers on Steamer Wharf, Queenstown.

Leonard Maltin gave it *** ˝ (out of 4).

Stars: Klaus Kinski, Claudia Cardinale, Jason Robarts, Mick Jagger

Extraordinary documentary of the filming of Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo in the Peruvian Amazon. Despite the filmmaker’s high technology, his dream of completing the film is constantly thwarted by nature and clashing cultures. Some find this more compelling than Fitzcarraldo itself.

{Fitzcarraldo dir Werner Herzog}
Stars Klaus Kinski, Claudia Cardinale, Jose Lewgoy, Miguel Angel Fuentes, Paul Hittscher

Vivid fascinating portrait of a man-obsessed (made by a man obsessed) who’s determined to capture a shipping route on the Amazon, even though it means hauling a boat over a mountaintop, through hostile tribal territory. Then he’s going to bring in grand opera! Astonishing and captivating movie in spite of its length, admittedly not to everyone’s taste.


The Federation’s permanent collection review is paraphrased below.

Burden of Dreams is the major exception to the filmmaker’s general obscurity, and is widely acknowledged as one of the best films about filmmaking ever made. Although Blank’s casual, unobtrusive style is more accustomed to capturing the spirit of more low-key, unassuming artists, his technique proves well-suited to wilder subjects. As this film demonstrates, the operatic mania of Herzog in full flight is best viewed from a distance – whether that distance be one of irony or physical safety – and there’s more than enough drama on the screen without the filmmaker imposing his own from behind the camera.


Les Blank’s legendary film of the making of Werner Herzog’s quirky 1982 feature Fitzcarraldo proves that a documentary on the making of a film can be more fascinating than the film itself. Herzog’s film is about a crazed Irish entrepreneur obsessed with bringing grand opera to a desolate village in the Amazon jungle. Blank’s film is about a crazed German movie director obsessed with making this movie, on location in the actual Amazon setting. Herzog gets his film; Blank gets a better one.

(Entertainment Weekly Guide to the Greatest Movies Ever Made.)


Before the feature we will probably run a short film called "Film", which may be a bit of a challenge for the audience.

"Film" is Samual Beckett’s only venture into the medium of the cinema. Written in 1963, the film was made in NY in the summer of 64. For shooting Beckett made his only trip to America. The film which has no dialogue and only one sound, takes as its basis Berkley’s theory of "esse est percipi", that ‘to be is to be perceived’: even after all outside perception, be it animal, human or divine, has been suppressed, selfperception remains. Though apparently bewildered by Beckett’s script, Keaton is indelible as a lone man in an eye patch who stumbles about in a barren room, flailing at the engulfing darkness.