Wednesday, May 14, 2008

SX0T's DVD Review: Burden of Dreams

One of the things I would like to begin here at Rewind and Adjust is a section were me and Derek 8-Track can review a film that we have recently seen on DVD. I am apprehensive to call it a DVD review (so I may be changing the title), because we are not in fact reviewing the DVD (although a review may include info about the special features). Rather I would like this to simply be a review of a DVD we have recently watched. There are thousands of great films out there and I would like to be able to bring some of that to you instead of just the most contemporary up-to-date info about films in theaters and film news. Now this is not saying every DVD review will be of an old film, but maybe just a film that we finally got to see on DVD. We'll see how this goes, but as always, feel free to offer advice and opinions! With that, I present to you the first DVD film review:

Burden of Dreams - A Film by Les Blank.


Burden of Dreams is a documentary capturing the behind the scenes look at Werner Herzog's nearly 5 years in the making film Fitzcarraldo. Fitzcarraldo is one of Herzog's most well known and beloved films, and was also his most challenging - the story of one man's attempt to build an opera house deep in the Amazon jungle. Les Blank documents all of the energy and insanity that went into this production, which was made perilous by Herzog's desire to shoot the film without the use of special effects or models - including a sequence requiring hundreds of natives to pull a full-sized, 320-ton steamship over a small mountain. The result is an extraordinary document of the filmmaking process and a unique look into the single-minded passion of one of cinema's most fearless directors.


I'm not the biggest fan of documentaries, but when a good one comes along, I usually LOVE it. This documentary was very interesting and captivating. Just being able to get a glance into the mind of Werner Herzog is something that remains a difficult task, but also an interesting one. We see him direct with passion and fervor and we see him almost abandon his dream of completing the film. This documentary really makes a hero out of Herzog who speaks to the camera with such conviction that we fully believe him when he says there is no other possible way to shoot the film than the way in which he is doing it. The film is compelling, gorgeous to look at, but also challenging in the ideas put forth by Herzog. There is also a few great special features such as the short documentary "Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe" about a bet made between Herzog and budding film maker Errol Morris. It is definitely worth a watch as well.


Most of my complaints come simply from the fact that I wish I knew more of the story of Fitzcarraldo. I found myself wanting to know more of that story so that I could find parallels between the actual film and the documentary. I also wish there was a little bit more of Herzog in action. Some of the best moments of the film come when we see Herzog frantically directing a crew of hundreds of natives. I also wish that we were told a little more, by Herzog or Les Blank, about Herzog's connection to the film making process and specifically the jungle. He mentions once that he feels tied to the jungle, but we don't get much information about why. It would be nice to hear a bit more so we can fully understand Herzog's thought process when going through this harrowing film shoot. The film does jump around a bit, but it doesn't really bother me because it is so captivating.


Overall I really enjoyed this film. Maybe because I can see parallels between Herzog and other directors and maybe because I enjoy the way Herzog talks about fulfilling dreams and making dreams become reality. I think Herzog is a fantastic person although slightly crazy, and I'm glad that comes through in this film as well. I do however wish that Criterion Collection would make a package that includes Burden of Dreams along with all of it's special features, and also include Fitzcarraldo. I feel like the two films should be together to fully understand what everything was about. Overall, I give this film a 7 out of 10.
Posted by SX0T at 12:09 PM |  


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