Over the July 4th weekend I finally saw Werner Herzog’s much praised 2005 doc Grizzly Man and while I was watching I couldn’t help but think about how amazing it would have been had Herzog been given the chance to put together a camping trip with Grizzly Man protagonist Timothy Treadwell and the famed Herzog collaborator Klaus Kinski. I don’t think Kinski would have been afraid of a grizzly bear and I have a good feeling he may have eaten Treadwell before the grizzlies ever had a chance to all while yelling obscenities at Treadwell’s pet fox. Both men were (and still are) eternally fascinating and deserving of Herzog’s eye as it didn’t take me long to realize why Treadwell’s story fascinated Herzog to the point of piecing together 90 minutes of Treadwell’s amateur footage into a feature-length doc and it was worth every minute.
Bringing this little story back to the headline, Herzog just released a new book titled “Conquest of the Useless: Reflections from the Making of Fitzcarraldo” which contains direct (and sometimes condensed) entries from over 1,000 pages of Herzog’s diary from the making of the 1982 film Fitzcarraldo starring Kinski as a man who wants to bring the opera to the Peruvian jungle and ends up dragging a river boat across land over a gigantic hill. The premise taken at face value will either sound wildly absurd or instantly genius, but I can tell you now that approaching the film with either thought process will have you coming out with the same conclusion… brilliant.
To accompany the release of the new book Herzog has been doing the press rounds and spoke with S. James Snyder at Time about the writing which Herzog calls “sheer poetry or prose” as opposed to any kind of mere journal entry as well as discusses the content of the book such as when he was when he speaks of the thousands of natives working with him on the film and says, “They came to me and wanted to kill [Kinski] for me — and when I say that it was serious.” Of course, anyone that has seen or knows anything about Kinski isn’t surprised by this and should you not know what I am talking about, watch the video to the right of Kinski on set of Fitzcarraldo and step out of the dark and into the light.
Over at Time’s website you can actually listen to all of Snyder’s interview with Herzog (it’s 23 minutes long) as well as catch a short video snippet and an abbreviated version of the interview. Here’s a brief portion of what it has to offer:
I bring this up because fans of Herzog are sure to be interested since I know his following is HUGE and extremely dedicated, but also because I am personally beginning to slowly delve into his massive filmography and each turn has been immensely fascinating.