Conquest of the Useless

Conquest of the Useless

Reflections From the Making of Fitzcarraldo

Book - 2009
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One of the most revered filmmakers of our time, Werner Herzog wrote this diary during the making of Fitzcarraldo, the lavish 1982 film that tells the story of a would-be rubber baron who pulls a steamship over a hill in the Amazon jungle in order to access a rich rubber territory. Later, Herzog spoke of his difficulties when making the film, including casting problems, reshoots, language barriers, epic clashes with the star, and the logistics of moving a 320-ton steamship over a hill without the use of special effects. Hailed by critics around the globe, the film went on to win Herzog the 1982 Outstanding Director Prize at Cannes. Herzog's diary is a glimpse into the mind of a genius during the making of one of his greatest achievements.--From publisher description.
Published: New York : Ecco, c2009.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780061575532
0061575534
Branch Call Number: 791.4372 HER
Characteristics: ix, 306 p. :,map ;,24 cm.
Additional Contributors: Winston, Krishna

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Andrew Kyle Bacon
Jun 26, 2018

It took me 21 days to read this book. That's pretty slow for me, but it's also been a busy month. To be fair, this is a VERY slow book, but it is methodical and engaging in its own way. Werner Herzog is a tough cookie to crack, because just about the time you think he has nothing left but self-parody, you discover that he really is as deep a thinker as he seems. But, just like the real Herzog, this book swings back and forth between making movies is GREAT and comments "Sweat, storm clouds overhead, sleeping dogs. There is a smell of stale urine. In my soup, ants and bugs were swimming among the globules of fat. Lord Almighty, send us an earthquake."

Don't get me wrong, it's a good book, but it's not one to be taken lightly. Somehow, and perhaps this comes from my own experience as a filmmaker, I felt myself falling into the same trap of depression which Herzog effortlessly describes in his journal entries. The mood and tone were overwhelming, to such a point that I almost dreaded the book at times because of how it made me feel. The book's title, "Conquest of the Useless" is an apt one, and summarized very well in the book's final moments, when, finally, after months of work, the ship Herzog has been moving over a mountain, slides down the other side and into the river it was destined for, Herzog writes as such:

"Today, on Wednesday, the 4th of November 1981, shortly after twelve noon, we got the ship from the Rio Camisea over a mountain into the Rio Urubamba. All that is to be reported is this: I took part."

c
CraigGraziano
Apr 24, 2014

Herzog sees how entropy take over and describes it matter-of-factly, time and time again. The absurd blends with the tragic beautifully. And to know what Herzog's voice sounds like is the icing on the cake. It is simultaneously elegant, melancholic, and powerful.

Read more at: http://www.librarypoint.org/conquest_useless_herzog

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