Peru, early 20th century: Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald — called Fitzcarraldo by everyone — is a dreamer and a rather unsuccessful businessman, but also a lover of opera, and thus plans to build an opera house in the middle of the rainforest. The idea is to finance the enterprise by making money from the rubber trade. But here's the problem: the only available rubber-producing plot lies in an almost inaccessible area. Fitzcarraldo is not that easily deterred, leasing the parcel and buying an enormous steamer to sail to his plot. The thing is that he will have to somehow get his boat from one river to another... over a hill. Seeing the man with the white vessel as a God, native Indians offer to help.
Herzog didn't use any tricks in the boat-hauling scene — people actually dragged the hefty object over a hill. A life-threatening enterprise for which he was much criticized. But for Herzog the only thing that really counts is what you see on the screen. Klaus Kinski plays Fitzcarraldo.