Of course, all this is filmed on location. And Werner Herzog actually does move a steamship overland without dismantling it. The movie is as much a testament to Herzog's obsession as it is to Fitzcarraldo's. The whole thing is surprisingly funny and light on its feet, shot through with sequences that play like fevered dreams and others that sparkle with wit and humanity.
This may be Klaus Kinski's most sympathetic performance. He's as crazy as a loon, but boy, is he dedicated! The supporting players are uniformly excellent, as are the natives who play versions of themselves. The making of the movie is chronicled in Burden of Dreams (1989). Highly recommended.