Promo image from the film, April 12, 2018 – Facebook/cimathe
CAIRO – 12 April 2018: The 1982 making-of-a-film documentary "Burden of Dreams" by filmmaker Les Blank will be screening at Cimatheque – Alternative Film Center on April 17 and again on April 22, 2018.
For a period of five years, legendary German director Werner Herzog struggled against ludicrous obstacles to finish filming his epic adventure film "Fitzcarraldo". Had it been any other director, this movie would have never seen the light of day, but Herzog's obsessively dedicated nature overcame everything, and the movie was finally released on March 5, 1982, achieving critical acclaim.
Perhaps the single most shocking facet of the film's production is also tied into the true story it's based on; wealthy Irishman Fitzgerald sought to build an Opera House deep in the Amazonian Rainforest, and attempted to get a tribe of Indians to move a steamboat across land straight over a mountain, but failed.
Herzog attempted to do the exact same thing again using 800 Peruvians.
Les Blank documents this behind the scenes lunacy with unflinching honesty, sugarcoating nothing behind the huge list of troubles which befell the project, making it possibly the hardest film to ever be shot. Herzog shot the film on location in the remote South American wilderness, thousands of miles away from civilization.
After the first half of the film had finished shooting; its lead actor Jason Robards came down with a case of amoebic dysentery so severe he was forbidden from working on the film. He was thus replaced with actor Klaus Kinski, star of Herzog's prior 1972 film "Aguirre, the Wrath of God". Mick Jagger, the famous American singer, was also on-board as an actor, but eventually had to leave as well due to his concerts.
Worse still was the trouble that eventually came from the native populations. Originally friendly with the crew, as production continued on, the tribes began to have numerous disagreements with Herzog's film, and eventually the film needed to be moved a thousand miles away after a tribal war between two groups broke out. Other disasters such as plane crashes and horrible weather very nearly broke Herzog's mind, causing him to believe the film was cursed and that it was the work of the "evil jungle".