conquest of the useless


A fairly young, intelligent-looking man with long hair asked me whether filming or being filmed could do harm, whether it could destroy a person. In my heart the answer was yes, but I said no.



In Borja at the lower end of the Pongo they did not want to believe their eyes, because no one had survived the passage when the water level was sixteen feet above normal, and our level had been eighteen. The village pongueros clustered around us, not saying a word. One of them inspected my swollen face and said ‘su madre’. Then he let me have a swig of his aguardiente.



Iquitos, 3 July 1980. Profoundly unreconciled to nature, I had an encounter with the big boa constrictor, which poked its head through the chicken wire surrounding its wooden cage and looked me fearlessly in the eye for a long time. Stubbornly confronting each other, we were pondering the relatedness of the species. Both of us, since the relatedness was slight, felt sad and turned away from each other.



Conquest of the useless. Reflections from the making of Fitzcarraldo ( Werner Herzog, 1979 )




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