Conquest of the Useless
Reflections from the Making of Fitzcarraldo
By Werner Herzog
(Ecco, Hardcover, 9780061575532, 320pp.)
Publication Date: June 11, 2009
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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One of the most revered filmmakers of our time, Werner Herzog wrote this diary during the making of Fitzcarraldo, the lavish 1982 film that tells the story of a would-be rubber baron who pulls a steamship over a hill in order to access a rich rubber territory. Later, Herzog spoke of his difficulties when making the film, including casting problems, reshoots, language barriers, epic clashes with the star, and the logistics of moving a 320-ton steamship over a hill without the use of special effects.
Hailed by critics around the globe, the film went on to win Herzog the 1982 Outstanding Director Prize at Cannes. Conquest of the Useless, Werner Herzog's diary on his fever dream in the Amazon jungle, is an extraordinary glimpse into the mind of a genius during the making of one of his greatest achievements.
Werner Herzog grew up in a remote mountain village in Bavaria. He never saw any films, television, or telephones as a child. During high school he worked the nightshift as a welder in a steel factory to produce his first film, in 1961, at the age of nineteen. Since then he has produced, written, and directed more than fifty films, including Aguirre, the Wrath of God; The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser; Rescue Dawn; and Grizzly Man. He lives in Los Angeles, California.
“Hypnotic...Any book by Mr. Herzog...turns his devotees into cryptographers. It is ever tempting to try to fathom his restless spirit and his determination to challenge fate.”
-Janet Maslin, New York Times
“Reveals Herzog to be witty, compassionate, microscopically observant and—your call—either maniacally determined or admirably persevering.”
-Los Angeles Times
“Stands alone as a compellingly gonzo piece of reportage. . . . As a read, Conquest flies along—but not because it’s especially plotty. Rather, it gathers its kick from the spectacle of a celebrity director escaping the late–’70s famescape into his own obsessions.”
-Time Out New York
“Those who haven’t encountered Herzog on screen will undoubtedly be drawn in by the director’s lyricism, while cinephiles will relish the opportunity to retrace the steps of one on the medium’s masters.”
“Urgent and compelling. . . . A valuable historical record and a strangely stylish, hypnotic literary work.”