Watch the full film on the
Welcome to Fandor. Watch thousands of award-winning films online. ×
Click here to take a look at our newly redesigned movie page.


  • 4.5
Werner Herzog's most epically-scaled film was inspired by an actual historical incident of stranger-than-fiction curiosity. In the late 1800s Peruvian rubber baron Carlos Fitzcarrald had an entire steamship laboriously transported over a mountain in order to open a trade passage from rubber-rich Madre de Dios to the Ucayali River. In Herzog's fanciful re-imagining, Fitzcarraldo is an Irish entrepreneur of scant means but grandiose ambitions who dreams of opening an opera house in Iquitos. Hoping to bankroll it by making his fortune in rubber, he commits to the seemingly impossible task of hauling a 320-ton, three-story steamer overland from one river to another (whereas Fitzcarrald transported his ship in part). As crazy as both real and screen stories are, the making of FITZCARRALDO itself became an equally daunting, near-lunatic endeavor. Originally cast in the lead role, Jason Robards shot for several weeks before forced out by a serious case of dysentery; none other than Mick Jagger played his assistant but that part was simply written out when the film's endless delays finally conflicted with a Rolling Stones tour. Herzog replaced Robards with his frequent star Klaus Kinski. Despite the role's benevolent tenor (quite at odds with the ruthless real-life Fitzcarrald), Kinski was such a nightmare on set that an indigenous tribal member of the cast helpfully asked Herzog if he would like them to kill the actor. Herzog politely declined. As preserved in Les Blank's making-of documentary BURDEN OF DREAMS, these and other production travails became so widely known they nearly eclipsed the long-delayed film itself. But FITZCARRALDO survives nevertheless as a spectacular physical adventure distinct from other Herzog/Kinski collaborations by virtue of its atypical aspects of whimsy and charm. For many, it is the director's most enchanting creation. - Dennis Harvey

Copy embed code


What makes this film worth watching? See All Reviews

3 members like this review

Obsession is the underlying theme. The obsession of an artist, the obsession of an explorer, the obsession of a fortune hunter. They’re all the same at the psychological level. Herzog makes that obsession palpable in Fitzcarraldo.

top reviewer
Cast & Crew
Directed By
Executive Produced By
Produced By
Edited By
Written By
Music By
Genres Festivals & Awards Related Articles

Member Reviews (23)

top reviewer

Obsession is the underlying theme. The obsession of an artist, the obsession of an explorer, the obsession of a fortune hunter. They’re all the same at the psychological level. Herzog makes that obsession palpable in Fitzcarraldo.

3 members like this review
top reviewer

In the documentary "Burden of Dreams", Herzog states that with Fitzcarraldo, he wants "to create new images nobody has ever seen before". Herzog has done just that in Fitzcarraldo, the epic realist adventure about art and obsession. Today, Fitzcarraldo is even more stunning to watch, not because of the HD transfer (although that helps), but because there is little chance of a film of this scale ever making into production. In an industry where special effects are used to create a story from a green canvas, the heft of Fitzcarraldo makes the work exhilarating to experience.

2 members like this review

For a Herzog fan, it's his usual engrossing, thoughtful, unique approach.

2 members like this review

Second time I've seen it, after 20 years or so. It may be the best movie about "imperialism" in Latin America (after Aguirre, the best movie about the Conquest of Latin America). Exciting, thrilling and monumental

2 members like this review

I wish I could give more than two thumbs for this motion feature!

1 member likes this review

Herzog became Fitzcarraldo with this, but was it worth it? Exploitation should be left within the confines of fiction, but this film became reality.

1 member likes this review

Only Herzog would make an dreaming underdog script this specific. And it's absolutely worth it. The film is so organically compiled in such a guerrilla filmmaking style, that it's all too real and believable. And Klaus Kinski is just incredible. Definitely worth watching. A haunting journey through the Amazon, and through one man's hopes and dreams. Operatic, poetic, and beautiful.

1 member likes this review

Not my favorite Herzog or Kinski, but absolutely worth seeing, along with the documentary made about it, Burden of Dreams.

1 member likes this review

The most sumptuous Herzog film.

top reviewer

The documentary chronicling the making of this film is almost better than the film itself. While I do find this movie runs longer than it should, I always go back to it. The sheer beauty and idea of a man and his pursuit of a dream against all obstacles is not a new plot to cinema. However it has never been approached in this way. Klaus Kinski is unforgettable as is the cinematography. An amazing film.

top reviewer

So if "Fitzcaraldo" is so amazing (and it is), then why bring up "The Burden of Dreams" at all? It's quite the backhanded compliment at Herzog. I suppose you also like "Hearts of Darkness" better than "Apocalypse Now," and "Room 237" better than the "The Shining."

top reviewer

This film is an epic, mythological fantasy - and more. The definition of taking one's passion, chasing a dream, and negotiating with the powers that be when both nature and societies thwart your ambition. It's timeless, and yet, much of the charm of this film is how it is a time capsule of the genre of film making in the time it was made: the score, the off sync language dubbing, the questioning of whether any artistic choice was deliberate, or just a product of the not-overly-self-conscious-of-political-correctness of its time. Kinski: I'm hooked.

top reviewer

Just a bizarre and rambling flick. Not a fan of this one at all.

Beautifully shot film. The color scheme added a layer of beauty that felt so organic and effortless. The pink tones and gentle creams against a harsh brown and green jungle back drop told the story through a subtle poetic lens. Man vs. Nature. White vs. Brown. Capitalism vs. Mysticism. Civilized vs. Uncivilized. You want Fitzcarraldo to succeed against all odds because he is the peoples man. He's the dreamer that will move mountains. He's the ultimate underdog. In telling this story, I wonder how much of it ended up being real. How much exploitation to the natives really happened so that Herzog could tell this "fictional" story? And was this shot in English or in German? So hard to tell. The dubbing was pretty amateur.

One of my favorite films, but I was disappointed to find the version on Fandor is dubbed. I have seen the film 4 times and the original German language version is far superior.

You know those movies that make you rethink how grand a scale movies can become... this is one of those movies.

A person who holds tightly onto his dreams with such a drive illustrated in this film often walks on the border of insanity. I can hardly begin to imagine what is inside Herzog's mind throughout the making of this film in order to produce a work such as this. His means and aesthetics are incredibly raw yet rich with so much to ponder about and observe. Kinski's performance is just as masterful and breathtaking as the entire film itself. Off to the documentary!

Holy wow.

From the outset, Brian "Fitzcarraldo" Fitzgerald is a guy I like. He is not Aguirre in a white suit. He is not driven by power, ego, or even obsession, but by romance. The love he has for the opera is full and genuine. Fitzcarraldo's failed business venture, which was intended to bankroll an opera house in the Amazonian town of Iquitos, is all the more devastating after having successfully moved a 320-ton riverboat over land. Despite this, he still finds a way to bring the opera to Iquitos. It comes by boat, the same battered boat that a lesser man would have destroyed as a symbol of his failure, and on it he brings a company of regional performers instead of Europe's great talents. It's not the opera house he wanted, but this riverboat is a relic of Fitcarraldo's vision, his force of will and his defeat. It is borne of his dream for the opera, and after everything, it provides the means to still make it happen.

Only the English dub to choose from?


Well Kinsky has a more 'peaceful' mania than in Aguirre, but he sure doesn't look or sound Irish. One wonders the fate of the tribe if it had been

successful. He is great for mania however. I wonder if some of the dialogue was expertly dubbed in?

Brilliant. What a masterpiece!