Burden of Dreams

( 3 )


Thanks to the current DVD boom, nearly every second-rate exercise in genre hackwork that opens in more than ten theaters merits a documentary on how the movie was made. But in 1982, Les Blank's Burden of Dreams was unusual not only as a feature film that chronicled the making of another feature film, but in the way it dealt with how an artist can be both driven and enslaved by his obsessions as it told a tale very much like that of the film it documented, Werner Herzog's Fitzcarraldo...and arguably made its ...
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Thanks to the current DVD boom, nearly every second-rate exercise in genre hackwork that opens in more than ten theaters merits a documentary on how the movie was made. But in 1982, Les Blank's Burden of Dreams was unusual not only as a feature film that chronicled the making of another feature film, but in the way it dealt with how an artist can be both driven and enslaved by his obsessions as it told a tale very much like that of the film it documented, Werner Herzog's Fitzcarraldo...and arguably made its points with greater clarity and insight than Herzog managed. The Criterion Collection has given Burden of Dreams a well-deserved release on DVD, and this edition firmly enhances the film's considerable strengths. Burden of Dreams has been given a high-definition transfer to disc in its original full-frame aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and Blank's camerawork looks simply radiant on this disc, capturing the forbidding beauty of the Amazon with impressive effect. The audio has been mastered in Dolby Digital Mono, and the sound is impressively clear and resonant for field recordings nearly a quarter-century old. The film's narration is in English, with the participants speaking in English, German, Spanish, and several tribal dialects; the optional and easily readable English subtitles thankfully make sense of it all. A number of relevant bonus features have been included, including a commentary track featuring Blank, his editor and sound recordist Maureen Gosling, and Herzog (who points out that he's commenting on a film that was at least in part a commentary on his film). Also on board is a new on-camera interview with Herzog as he discusses both Fitzcarraldo and Burden of Dreams, a pair of deleted scenes, the film's original trailer, a gallery of stills taken during the shoot, and Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe, a very entertaining short by Blank in which Herzog makes good on a promise to filmmaker Errol Morris by -- you guessed it -- eating his shoe. Finally, a 80-page book included with this release reprints journals kept by Blank and Gosling during the chaotic Fitzcarraldo shoot. Burden of Dreams is essential viewing for anyone interested in the challenges of filmmaking and the outer edges of the creative process, and Criterion's DVD edition is the ideal place to investigate it.
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Special Features

Closed Caption; New, restored high-definition digital transfer; Audio commentary by director Les Blank, editor and sound recordist Maureen Gosling, and Fitzcarraldo director Werner Herzog; "Dreams and Burdens," a new 38-minute video interview with Herzog; Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe (1980), a 20-minute film by Blank featuring Herzog fulfilling a bet ; Deleted scenes; Photo gallery of images taken by Gosling ; Theatrical trailer; New and improved English subtitle translation and optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing; A new essay by film scholar Paul Arthur and an 80-page book of excerpts from Blank's and Gosling's production journals
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Josh Ralske
Les Blank's film about the making of Werner Herzog's Fitzcarraldo is a fascinating portrait of a filmmaker pushed to the outer edge of sanity by a difficult film shoot, and by his obsession with seeing his vision captured on the screen. Just as the film Herzog is making shows a man (Fitzcarraldo, played by Klaus Kinski) whose passion for opera drives him to a mad and self-destructive act of incredible hubris, the film Blank has made shows a man (Herzog) whose passion for his own art drives him to a similar mad and self-destructive act. Like Hearts of Darkness (Fax Bahr and George Hickenlooper's invaluable document of the making of Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now), Burden of Dreams paints a somewhat troubling picture of a fiercely intelligent and supremely talented, but megalomaniacal filmmaker, who will stop at nothing to see his brilliant vision realized. The profound respect that Herzog professes to have for the tribal culture Amazonian Indians stands in sharp contrast to the way they are treated on his set, and Blank effectively captures this disparity. He also captures the degradation of Herzog's keen mind, as the jungle apparently begins to drive him mad. "Nature here is vile and base," he explains, as the elements threaten to derail his film, "The trees are in misery. The birds here are in misery. I don't think they sing -- they just screech in pain." Late in the shoot, as the filming hits snag after snag, Herzog laments, with a rueful smile, "I shouldn't make movies anymore. I should go to a lunatic asylum right away." Burden of Dreams is a tale of obsession as compelling and disturbing as the film it documents.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 5/10/2005
  • UPC: 037429206829
  • Original Release: 1982
  • Rating:

  • Source: Criterion
  • Presentation: Pan & Scan
  • Language: English
  • Time: 1:35:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 1,204

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Werner Herzog
Klaus Kinski
Claudia Cardinale
David Perez Espinosa
Miguel Angel Fuentes
Paul Hittscher
Mick Jagger
Jose Lewgoy
Thomas Mauch
Jason Robards Jr.
Walter Saxer
Technical Credits
Les Blank Director, Cinematographer, Producer
Michael Goodwin Screenwriter
Mike Goodwin Screenwriter
Maureen Gosling Editor, Sound/Sound Designer
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Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. The Story of Fitzcarraldo [4:46]
2. The Aguaruna Struggle [6:38]
3. Robards and Jagger Leave [3:32]
4. Kinski Arrives/Iquitos [5:17]
5. The Boats [3:31]
6. The Second Camp [3:17]
7. José Lewgoy/Hardship [4:44]
8. The Ship Runs Aground [3:44]
9. Employing the Indigenous Population [6:54]
10. Raid Party [5:01]
11. Separate Worlds [6:32]
12. Masato [2:32]
13. Compensation [4:58]
14. "The Jungle Is Winning" [4:35]
15. Tending to Boredom [4:48]
16. The Boat and the Hill [8:33]
17. Challenging Nature [4:27]
18. Herzog Presses On [4:17]
19. The Film Is Stuck [2:08]
20. Four Years Later... [1:34]
21. Credits [2:59]
1. Project Beginnings [4:46]
2. The First Film Camp [6:38]
3. Casting Changes [3:32]
4. Approaching Subjects/Burdens [5:17]
5. Various Populations at Work [3:31]
6. The Second Camp [3:17]
7. The Actors/Herzog's Approach [4:44]
8. Dangers [3:44]
9. Medical and Filming Concerns [6:54]
10. The Raid Party [5:01]
11. An Unnatural Setting/Structure [6:32]
12. Music/Ending Sensibility [2:32]
13. Land Title [4:58]
14. Herzog's Unwavering Vision [4:35]
15. Problems [4:48]
16. No Precedent/Waning Support [8:33]
17. Not a Romantic [4:27]
18. Shooting the Rapids [4:17]
19. The Aftermath [2:08]
20. Dreams Fulfilled [1:34]
21. Artists Doing Art [2:59]
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Side #1 --
   Play the Movie
   Color Bars
      Commentary: Off
      Commentary: On
      Colors Bars
      Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe
      Dreams and Burdens
         Parallel Films
      Deleted Scenes
      Stills Gallery
         Werner Herzog
         Les Blank
         Maureen Gosling
         Klaus Kinski
         Fitzcarraldo Additional Cast Photographs
         Fitzcarraldo Crew
         Burden of Dreams Crew
         The Two Film Camps
         The Locations
         The Peruvian Indians
         Building the Ships
         Other Photos From the Amazon and Beyond
      English Translations
      Subtitles: Off
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Great documentary covering a fine movie

    Burden of Dreams is the Les Blank documentary on the filming of Werner Herzog's "Fitzcarraldo." The documentary is an engrossing story in itself, covering the extreme difficulties of filming "Fitzcarraldo" in the Amazon jungle. Both the Herzog film and Burden of Dreams are highly recommended.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews