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Fitzcarraldo: Collector's Edition

Famed German director Werner Herzog takes a page out of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness in this mammothly boring epic about a delusional music-lover obsessed with bringing opera — specifically Enrico Caruso — to the heart of the Amazon rainforest. For some reason, his plan requires the hoisting of a riverboat over a large hill with the help of a notoriously ruthless tribe of quiet natives. Klaus Kinski plays the wild-eyed entrepreneur with typical fervor, but Herzog is so bad at building character and narrative that the performance comes off as a series of ticks and sputters with no climax or resolution. Herzog does have an eye for the spectacular, however, and when his film takes to the waters of the Amazon after half-an-hour of mind-numbingly dull introduction, some of the visuals are indeed spectacular. It's such a shame then that the film's "treacherous" finale is as flaccid as they come — and ultimately bears no consequence. With its bizarrely anticlimactic resolution, Herzog seems to be saying "Talent and sanity don't matter: if you have rich friends your dreams will come true." Maybe that's how he's managed to make so many overrated movies. And for a movie about a man driven mad by his passion for music, the score is unbelievably listless. Despite a grainy, blotchy title sequence, Fitzcarraldo is presented in an otherwise clear 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer and equally poor and hammy German and dubbed English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio tracks. Includes commentary by Herzog, producer Lucki Stipetic and Norman Hill. Trailer, still gallery. Keep-case.
—Gregory P. Dorr

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