Les Blank’s Web Site


Directed, Produced and Photographed by Les Blank

Editing and Sound Recording by Maureen Gosling

Translator: Pacho Lane

Narration: Michael Goodwin

Narrator: Candace Laughlin

BURDEN OF DREAMS is a chilling but finely balanced account of what might ordinarily be considered artistic folly: German filmmaker Werner Herzog's obsession to complete the painfully plagued jungle shooting of Fitzcarraldo. Disaster after disaster befalls Herzog's tale of a penniless opera-mad dreamer (Klaus Kinski) who risks everything to build a grand opera house in the jungle river port of Iquitos (in the Peruvian Amazon). Blank's film grows into a fascinating (and at the time, highly controversial) record of an obsessed genius and his battle to finish the project in the face of plane crashes, torrential rains, attacks by armed, hostile Indians, the loss of several leading actors, and the eruption of a full-fledged border war around him. The obvious irony running through BURDEN OF DREAMS is that creating the movie Fitzcarraldo proved just as dubious and perilous an enterprise as the one on which it was based.

At the time of BURDEN OF DREAMS’ release, the film was a success critically-it was considered one of the 10 Best Films of 1982 by over a dozen critics-as well as at the box office, and continues to influence younger filmmakers.

In January, 2000, Derek Malcolm of the Guardian of London named BURDEN OF DREAMS one of the 100 best films of the 20th Century. (Read the review here: http://www.filmunlimited.co.uk/Century_Of_Films/
.) The film also won the British Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary in 1982.

Critical acclaim for BURDEN OF DREAMS (from the time of film's first release):

"An extraordinary portrait of a filmmaker in the grip of an artistic passion that knows no bounds." - Judy Stone, San Francisco Chronicle

"Remarkable…one of the most candid, most fascinating portraits ever made of a motion picture director at work…There's never been anything else quite like it. BURDEN OF DREAMS sees Mr. Herzog as a Herzog hero, driven, unreasonable, slightly ridiculous, self-searching, magnificent and maybe dangerous." - Vincent Canby, New York Times

"Extraordinary…one of the most exquisitely detailed, dramatically compelling films ever made about the creative process." - Michael Blown, Boston Globe

"A magnificent account of an obsessed artist at work; by turns funny, inspiring and hair-raising." - Richard Freeman, Newhouse Newspapers

"The most revealing portrait of a filmmaker and filmmaking ever made." - Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times

"Superbly crafted…A chilling chronicle of artistic obsession…one of the most thorough and disturbing movies ever made about an artist at work." - David Chute, Los Angeles Herald-Examiner

"An extraordinary portrait of Herzog trapped in the middle of one of his wildest dreams…Les Blank is a brilliant filmmaker who is unafraid to ask difficult questions and portray Werner Herzog, warts and all." - Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

"Burden of Dreams should be ranked with the finest of films about great artists." - Gene Siskel, Chicago Tribune

"Magnificent madness…The movie happens to be masterpiece.” - Margaret Hinxman, London Daily Mail