Conquest of the Useless

Werner Herzog

Conquest of the Useless
Penguin Putnam Inc
United States
28 May 2024

Conquest of the Useless

Werner Herzog

Newly repackaged as a Penguin paperback, Conquest of the Useless, the legendary filmmaker Werner Herzog's diary of the making of Fitzcarraldo, one of his most revered and classic films

In 1982, the visionary directory Werner Herzog released Fitzcarraldo, a lavish film about a would-be rubber baron who pulls a 320-ton steamship over a mountain. It was hailed instantly by critics around the globe as a masterpiece and won Herzog the 1982 Outstanding Director Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, affirming Herzog's reputation as one of the most revered and enigmatic filmmakers of his time.

Conquest of the Useless is the diary Herzog kept during the making of Fitzcarraldo, compiled from June 1979 to November 1981. Emerging as if out of an Amazonian fever dream during filming, Herzog's writings are an extraordinary documentary unto themselves. Strange and otherworldly events are recounted by the filmmaker. The crew's camp in the heart of the jungle is attacked and burned to the ground; the production of the film clashes with a border war; and, of course, Herzog unravels the impossible logistics of moving a 320-ton steamship over a hill without the use of special effects.

In his preface, Herzog warns that the diary entries collected in Conquest of the Useless do not represent "reports on the actual filming" but rather "inner landscapes, born of the delirium of the jungle." Thus begins an extraordinary glimpse into the mind of a genius during the making of one of his greatest achievements.

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