Movie Reviews: Genius Director Gone Bananas Triple Feature

Dennis suggests Hearts of Darkness (in Documentary), Lost In La Mancha (also in Documentary), and Burden of Dreams (in the Criterion section). It’s a ‘watch the obsessed director go bug-nuts crazy’ triple feature! First, there’s Francis Ford Coppola losing it in the Philippines as he sees his Apocalypse Now leading man (Martin Sheen) have a heart attack, his budget whirl completely out of control due to disastrous weather, governmental unpredictability, and serious self-indulgence, and other star Marlon Brando almost torpedo the whole bloated affair by showing up unprepared, overweight, and stubborn as the ox slashed to death in the film’s finale. As fascinating or more than the film itself. Then shift gears with the unbearably-tragic spectacle of professional eccentric dreamer Terry Gilliam watching absolutely everything possible go disastrously wrong as he tries to direct the yet-still-unmade dream project The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. The look on his face when told that the combination of substandard facilities, hinky financing, costar Jean Rochefort’s ailing back, and, again, the capriciousness of Mommy Nature have, finally, made it impossible to continue filming; it’s like watching little Travis being told he has to shoot Old Yeller. And then there’s the best documentary (as well as the best director meltdown) of all with Les Blank’s record of Werner Herzog making his own Quixotic charge at his Fitzcarraldo in Burden of Dreams. Amazing footage of star loony Klaus Kinski ranting and risking his life on an Amazon river, the spectacle of a steamship being hoisted over a jungle mountain, and Herzog’s breathtaking, utterly bananas rant about the jungle he’s found himself trapped in, quoted in its entirety because of its sheer, awesome berserkness, “Nature here is vile and base. I wouldn’t see anything erotical here. I would see fornication and asphyxiation and choking and fighting for survival and… growing and… just rotting away. Of course, there’s a lot of misery. But it is the same misery that is all around us. The trees here are in misery, and the birds are in misery. I don’t think they – they sing. They just screech in pain. It’s an unfinished country. It’s still prehistorical. The only thing that is lacking is – is the dinosaurs here. It’s like a curse weighing on an entire landscape. And whoever… goes too deep into this has his share of this curse. So we are cursed with what we are doing here. It’s a land that God, if he exists has – has created in anger. It’s the only land where – where creation is unfinished yet. Taking a close look at – at what’s around us there – there is some sort of a harmony. It is the harmony of… overwhelming and collective murder. And we in comparison to the articulate vileness and baseness and obscenity of all this jungle – Uh, we in comparison to that enormous articulation – we only sound and look like badly pronounced and half-finished sentences out of a stupid suburban… novel… a cheap novel. We have to become humble in front of this overwhelming misery and overwhelming fornication… overwhelming growth and overwhelming lack of order. Even the – the stars up here in the – in the sky look like a mess. There is no harmony in the universe. We have to get acquainted to this idea that there is no real harmony as we have conceived it. But when I say this, I say this all full of admiration for the jungle. It is not that I hate it, I love it. I love it very much. But I love it against my better judgment. “ Damn…I love it when geniuses lose it on camera for our enjoyment…it’s much more interesting than when normal people do it.

Published in: on June 30, 2009 at 10:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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