Six and a half years ago filmmaker Les Blank, best known for his legendary Burden of Dreams (1982), a doc about the making of Werner Herzog‘s Fitzcarraldo, took part in a Santa Barbara Film Festival panel discussion about documentary filmmaking. I don’t remember what Blank said (a video of the discussion sits below), but I do recall his decision to lay out DVDs of his films on a blanket outside the theatre and offer them for sale.
The fact that Burden of Dreams is now free on Hulu indicates that it’s not exactly a hot-selling Criterion Collection title. It is nonetheless one of the most stirring making-of-a movie docs ever made. It is arguably equal to Fitzcarraldo itself, as both films deal with a white man’s manic obsession and borderline lunacy in a remote South American jungle, and how it impacts a native culture. Klaus Kinski‘s Fitzcarraldo = Werner Herzog = Fitzcarraldo and back again.
In my book BOD is in the same realm as George Hickenlooper ‘s Hearts of Darkness, Laurent Bouzereau‘s two-hour-long “making of Jaws” doc (i.e., originally included on a Jaws special edition laser disc in the ’90s, re-appeared on a 30th anniversary Jaws DVD that came out in ’05) and Charles Lauzarika‘s Tricks of the Trade, an innovative 71-minute doc about the making of Ridley Scott‘s Matchstick Men.