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Burden of Dreams

Les Blank


Burden of Dreams
Directed by: Les Blank
Criterion Collection
The story behind Werner Herzog’s 1982 Fitzcarraldo is as stunning as the one on screen. To tell of an entrepreneur’s struggle to open an opera house in the Amazon, Herzog literally moved a massive luxury boat over a jungle hill. Add to this star Klaus Kinski’s diva outbursts and the distrusting local natives, and the making-of doc Burden of Dreams is compelling cinema in its own right. Trouble is, with the advent of DVD extras, behind-the-scenes documentaries are no longer unique: the lavish packaging feels like nothing but supplements. Yet what’s provided here is indispensable for Herzog/Kinski junkies. Where Burden of Dreams director Les Blank’s footage is limited, due to timing and restrictions, greater detail is revealed with Blank and colleague Maureen Gosling’s 80- page journal of events, included. The most prized extra is Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe. The short documentary shows the eccentric director fulfilling a promise to eat his shoe under the condition that friend Errol Morris had the courage to complete his first film Gates of Heaven. The shoe is boiled with garlic and spices, and is said to taste better with every bite.
Mark Palermo

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