A disconcerting account of the crazy circumstances under which Werner Herzog shot his masterpiece Fitzcarraldo (1982). Just like his megalomaniac lead character, Herzog wanted to haul a steamship across a mountain in the Peruvian jungle in order to create an opera in the wilderness.
The shoot was plagued by an endless series of setbacks. Jason Robards, the intended star of the film, had to drop out due to illness after almost half of the film had been shot. His replacement, Klaus Kinski, made good on his reputation for tyrannical tantrums and soured the mood on set with his explosive fits of rage. And then there was the border war between Peru and Ecuador that ravaged the crew’s camp, not to mention a plane crash, prolonged downpours and hostile locals. Many actors left the set, including Mick Jagger, who didn't have time to sit out the long delays.
According to Herzog, you only get to know people under extreme pressure. Set up as an ethnographic chronicle, this documentary shows us the real Herzog, hysterically defying the impossible.