Conquest of the Useless: Reflections from the Making of Fitzcarraldo (Paperback)
Werner Herzog is one of our most revered contemporary filmmakers, a visionary director who ceaselessly tests the boundaries of art. Fitzcarraldo, his lavish 1982 film about a would-be rubber baron who pulls a steamship over a hill to access a rich rubber territory, was hailed by critics around the globe and won Herzog the 1982 Outstanding Director Prize at Cannes.
The text of Conquest of the Useless emerged as if out of an Amazonian fever dream: the crew's camp in the heart of the jungle was attacked and burned to the ground; the production clashed with a border war; two planes crashed during filming; and Herzog had to unravel the logistics of moving a 320-ton steamship over a hill without the use of special effects.
More than just a journal or diary of the shooting of Fitzcarraldo, Conquest of the Useless is a work of art unto itself, which charts the inner landscapes born of the delirium of the jungle and offers an extraordinary glimpse into the mind of a genius during the making of one of his greatest achievements.
About the Author
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.
Krishna Winston, professor and chair of the German Studies Department in the Wesleyan University, is the principal English-language translator for the works of the Nobel Prize-winning German author Gunter Grass, she also translated Peter Handke's "Don Juan".
“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.”