Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Conquest of the Useless, by Werner Herzog

Reflections from the Making of Fitzcarraldo

5 stars

For iPhone/iPad click here.
"...in this setting, left unfinished and abandoned by God in wrath, the birds do not sing; they shriek in pain, and confused trees tangle with one another like battling Titans, from horizon to horizon, in a steaming creation still being formed. Fog-panting and exhausted they stand in this unreal world, in unreal misery -and I, like a stanza in a poem written in an unknown foreign tongue, am shaken to the core."
Me too dude, me too.

Perhaps it's because I'm a city girl, but Herzog's vision of nature - obscene, cruel, wrathful, chaotic, and filled with a beauty that is terrible - rings far more true to me than any amount of nature-boy ramblings on harmony and being at one with the earth. If you're a fan of Herzog (as I am) then you'll find as much to enjoy here as in any of his films. This is not just a film diary - it's nothing near as banal as that - but a collection of images, feelings, waking dreams and visions (both delirious and otherwise) borne from the chaos of attempting the Herculean feat of hauling a steamboat over a mountain in the rainforest (and simultaneously wrangling the colossal ego of the maniacal Klaus Kinski), while making an astounding film.

Hypnotic, compelling, poetic and hilarious, this book is filled with so much material that I could easily re-read it a thousand times without once getting bored, and in fact already look forward to doing so. Whether I was being seduced by passages such as the one at the top of this review, cackling over his responses to the latest outburst from Kinski (I really, really enjoy their relationship, and never more so than when they're really NOT enjoying it) or wondering at the descriptions of his latest vision, I was never anything less than fully engaged and awed.

A wonderful book that I highly recommend, as 
a companion piece you could do worse than to search out My Best Fiend, a brilliant documentary on the relationship between Herzog and his most fascinating leading man....

For iPhone/iPad click here.

Don't forget to watch all of Herzog's films while you're at it. Go on, off you go...


  1. Yay!! Am just finishing his first visit to scout locations...can't wait for the rest :-)

    1. Sweet!! I'm a little bit jealous that I'm not reading for the first time again :-D

      Lemme know how you get on x