Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald (Kinski), an ice-house operator in an Amazon frontier town, dreams of building an opera house deep in the Peruvian jungle where Enrico Caruso will perform. His sole friend, local madam Molly (Cardinale), agrees to help the impoverished Fitz realize his wild scheme, which involves hauling a 300-ton steamship up and over a steep mountain to an unclaimed patch of land.
Uber-charismatic actor Klaus Kinski brings his psychotic energy to Herzog’s legendary adventure tale, one of the director’s most astonishing and unforgettable accomplishments. Herzog lodged himself in the jungle for two years making this film, dealing with illness, death, and all manner of misfortune. His original lead, Jason Robards, dropped out of the project early on because of delays. Then Herzog brought on Kinski, who was so crazed, and so difficult to deal with, that the Peruvian Indians offered to kill him! Nevertheless, Herzog realized his mad vision, enlisting locals in the impossible task of rigging a pulley to haul the steamship skyward. In film, as in life, “Fitzcarraldo” is a masterpiece of delusional genius.