„The Village Cry“ No.7 was the final issue of this unique magazine. By spring 1978 its financial backbone was broken. Rolf Paltzer and Beat Presser had hoped to continue, but finally they decided to close down the publication.

Rolf Paltzer became an editor for Gruner and Jahr‘s new publication „ART“; Beat Presser took on a job as a creative director in an advertising agency in South East Asia. Two years later Beat Presser moved back to Europe and in early 1981 he was hired to work on Werner Herzog‘s Fitzcarraldo as a still photographer and assistant cameraman to work in Peru and in Brazil. When Beat Presser returned in 1982 from Peru, he managed to put together one more issue of „The Village Cry“. Under a different name!


Beat Presser

Art Director
Beat Presser

Wepf Verlag, Basel

All photographs in this issue
were taken by Beat Presser if not mentioned otherwise.

5000 copies, 36 pages, black/white size 28,5 x 40 cm on glossy paper published in Basel, Switzerland Spring 1982

The Ship

Today the film “Fitzcarraldo” is considered one of the most important German film of all times. It is the story of Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald – known as Fitzcarraldo – whose dream is to become rich with rubber and to use his wealth to bring Caruso and the Opera to the jungle.

The production took place under extreme conditions and when these photographs were taken not even the people working on the filmset believed that it was possible to pull a boat with more than 250 tons over a steep mountain in the middle of the Peruvian Jungle in the Amazon, far away from civilisation.

But finally we did!

First a ship was needed. Production manager Walter Saxer made an aerial survey and finally found an old boat in Colombia that fit the idea and the script of Werner Herzog. The ship was towed down the Amazon River to the shipyard in Iquitos where two replicates of the 90year old boat were made. It takes one and a half years till two perfect copies, down to the smallest detail are completed.

All three ships later appear in the film. The original boat – they were all called Molly Aïda – is the one that is rebuilt at the beginning of the film after Fitzcarraldo buys the boat. The second boat gets pulled over the mountain, the third one goes through the rapids. The two new built boats were constructed in a different manner in order to serve their purpose.

The Making

But the ongoing works at the shipyard were only one of the many problems that needed to be solved. How to find a suitable location where the ship could be pulled over a mountain? How to organise 1000 Indios in one place at one time? How accomodate, transport and feed actors, technicians and members of the team in the jungle? How and where to get the film material processed? Where to see the rushes? And most important of all, how to finance the venture? In the meantime a location was found where some of the filming would take place. But all of a sudden big problems appeared. An Indigenous Indios delegacy- due to the influence of some American Bible Society and different interests in suspected oil fields – opposed to the planned filming. Not only that, Herzog was accused of genocide by Amnesty International. Despite all problems, on January 5th the first shooting day was planned. With Mick Jaegger, Jason Robards and Mario Adorf. On that day a general strike took place, followed by many other unpleasant incidents from the very start. Nevertheless work somehow progressed until early February. Then Robards got seriously ill, felt unable to continue filming, asked for a break of one week, left for New York and never came back. This was the signal for a new beginning. A new principal actor needed to be found, Mick Jagger could not prolong his stay for another 3 months since he had other commitments. Mario Adorf did not wish to stay since he was not offered the role of Fitzcarraldo. Finally Herzog met with Klaus Kinski in New York. It was agreed that he would play Fitzcarraldo. On April 1st 1981 filming started anew. This time Beat Presser was part of the team as well.

Werner Herzog

Werner Herzog, the master mind behind this ambitious and adventurous project about his film Fitzcarraldo, in conversation with the American filmmaker Les Blank for his film Burden of Dreams, the documentary film about Fitzcarraldo:

I wanted to write a story about a man with a dream: Build a great Opera House in the middle of the Jungle, complete with renowned opera singers. But because he was unable to immediately raise the funds needed to begin his project, he decided to build his wealth in the rubber industry first by buying a piece of land rich in rubber.

However, this land proved to be totally inaccessible except for by steam ship, and by using two rivers which were separated by a mountain!

Fitzcarraldo knew that there was a spot where both rivers were only a short distance apart from each other, and, with the help of 1100 Indigenous Indios, was able to drag his ship over the mountain, and launch it back in the water on the other side, just above of some rapids!

Unfortunately, the first attempt failed as, during the night, the Indio’s who were in hiding, untied the ropes securing the boat, letting it float downstream and over the rapids.

Initially his great dream had vanished, but nonetheless, Fitzcarraldo ultimately succeeded in turning the disaster into a success story.

„I was the only one that survived the first casting. Jason returned to New York to eat his New Yorker steak, Mick was forced to give up. He was scheduled to do a major tour in the States. Werner didn‘t let himself get discouraged; on the contrary, the difficulties spurred him on.“

„To me, Fitzcarraldo is a poetic and brilliant adventure. Only Werner could have transformed this utopia into reality. Nothing is impossible for him: he loves risk, challenge, the difficulties that make him stronger…and he emerges victorious! It was an experience that bound us together forever …actors and technicians.“

Claudia Cardinale on “Fitzcarraldo” excerpts from Beat Presser‘s book „Werner Herzog“

„Mick Jagger brought his own TV and video set with 80 films, his whole stereo unit plus two guitars, amplifier and loudspeakers, 100 kilos of corned- beef, fish, bread and other food, cooking utensils, spirit-cooker, 50 bottles of wine and champagne, jungle pyjamas, tropical hat with net and, best of all, his own cook from Los Angeles with him.“

„Things became critical at the beginning of February, as Jason Robards condition and resistance rapidly worsened, physically and psychologically. We were requested by Robard‘s lawyer to install a heart and lung machine in the jungle camp, to fly in an american doctor with modern medical apparatus, to have an plane ready to take off day and night; everything, which under the given circumstances was impossible to fulfil“.

Picture: Mick Jagger and Jason Robards in Iquitos 1981. From the Super 8 Movie by Lukas Strebel

Fitzcarraldo Crew

Werner Herzog

Assistant Director
Jorge Vignat

Anja Schmidt-Zäringer

Production Manager
Walter Saxer

Director of Photography
Thomas Mauch

2nd Camera Unit
Rainer Klausmann

Assistant Camera, Still Photographer
Beat Presser

Raimund Wirner, Hans-Peter Vogt

Sound Engineer
Juarez Dagoberto

Assistant Sound
Zézé D’Alice

Set Designer
Henning von Gierke

Assistant Set Designer
Ulrich Bergfelder

Costume Designer
Gisela Storch

Assistant Costumes
Franz Blumauer

Make-up, Hair
Stefano Fava, Gloria Fava

Special Effects
Miguel Vazquez

Assistant Make-up, Hair
Jacques Monteiro, Carlos Prieto

Dialogue Coach
William L. Rose

Beate Mainka-Jellinghaus

Assistant Editor
Carola Mai, Linda Kuusisto

Sound Editor
Petra Mantoudis

Lucki Stipetic. Werner Herzog

Page left and right: Article on „The
History of Rubber“ and „Fitzcarraldo“

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Teatro Amazonas

If Caruso ever sang in Manaus we don‘t know. It might be a legend only. But the Teatro Amazonas became world famous nevertheless.

It is the most exciting monument of the „Kautschuk–Era“ and probably one of the most luxurious buildings in South America.

Eighteen million Goldmark were spent before it was inaugurated in 1896. Only the best was good enough to please the New-Rich-Society of Manaus. Carara-Marble, Cystal Chandeliers from Venice, Gold-plated tiles from Lothringen for the dome and ornate furnishings from France to make Manaus look like Paris.

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