Tuesday, June 24, 2008

"How can you ask this question?"

When does a metaphor cease to be a metaphor? In this documentary about the making of Fitzcarraldo, Werner Herzog repeatedly says that the boat being pulled over the mountain is "the central metaphor" for his film. But a metaphor for what? In My Best Fiend: Klaus Kinski, Herzog admits that he is still not sure. The documentary makes this conflation of object and symbol especially clear. Fitzcarraldo portrays the feat as a magnificent achievement, but this is not a result of filmic effects. Pulling that boat over that mountain was exactly as hard as it seemed to be.

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