Based on the the real-life story of Peruvian rubber baron Carlos Fitzcarrald, 1982’s film Fitzcarraldo was an utterly disastrous undertaking in the Amazon by one of my favourite film makers, Werner Herzog.
Having to deal with sickness, multiple cast changes (and his inevitably stubborn insistance that everything got re-shot), and hauling a 320 tonne steamship over a hill from one river to another for a shot, with no use of special effects (Fitzcarrald’s original weighed only 30 tonnes and was dismantled first); he called himself “the conquistador of the useless”.
The new book, Conquest of the Useless is Herzog’s own journal of that experience, (the film ‘Burden of Dreams’ has previously detailed it to some extent) and offers a brilliant insight into his paranoid, particular and pedantic mind, in the face of extreme adversity and almost certain failure. Brilliantly sad, funny, frustrating and deeply moving at the same time.
Thanks to Flavorwire for the tip, and the following links (pure YouTube gold):