Perhaps one of the most remarkable aspects of the 1982 production of Fitzcarraldo was the reality in which it was made. The story of a Peruvian rubber baron's conquest of the Amazon took film making to its very limit.
Going against the studios advice, Werner Herzog insisted on having no studio. The epic scenes in the film, most notably the dragging of a full size paddle steamer through the the Amazon rain forest were actually carried out. Locals were hired to pay 'themselves' and recreate Herzog's vision.
To add spice to proceedings the relationship between director and lead role Klaus Kinski was so combustible that there were numerous fights, walk outs (how does one walk out of the Amazon?) and death threats. Herzog was to have told Kinski that he would have him shot if he tried to use one of the film crews' cars to leave the set.
Tensions were not just between the two main men. Kinski was so aggressive to the whole film staff that the head of a local native tribe offered to have him killed. Herzog politley refused this offer, explaining that he needed Kinski to help finish the film.
Herzog's diary written during production was published in 2009, entitled Conquest of the Useless.