Conquest of the Useless

Conquest of the Useless

Fever Dreams in the Jungle

Summary

A fever-dream journal documenting the making of cinema’s most infamous production, from the world's most infamously visionary director: Werner Herzog.

In 1982, the visionary film director, Werner Herzog, released Fitzcarraldo, a lavish film about a would-be rubber baron who pulls a 320-ton steamship over a mountain. Hailed instantly by critics around the globe as a masterpiece, Fitzcarraldo 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.

Reviews

  • Reveals Herzog to be witty, compassionate, microscopically observant and?your call?either maniacally determined or admirably persevering.
    Los Angeles Times

About the author

Werner Herzog

Werner Herzog has produced, written and directed more than fifty feature and documentary films, including the multi-award-winning Grizzly Man, Aguirre, The Wrath of God, Fitzcarraldo, My Best Fiend, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Nosferatu, Lessons of Darkness, Littler Dieter Needs To Fly, Into the Inferno, Meeting Gorbachev and Encounters At The End of the World. He has also directed many operas and published more than a dozen books of prose including Conquest of the Useless and Of Walking In Ice. The Twilight World is his first book in decades.
Learn More

More from this Author

Sign up to the Penguin Newsletter

For the latest books, recommendations, author interviews and more