In the 1950s, an adolescent Werner Herzog was transfixed by a film performance of the young Klaus Kinski. Years later, they would share an apartment where, in an unabated, forty-eight-hour ... See full summary »
The feared bandit Cobra Verde (Klaus Kinski) is hired by a plantation owner to supervise his slaves. After the owner suspects Cobra Verde of consorting with his young daughters, the owner ... See full summary »
About the daring adventure of exploring rain forest canopy with a novel flying device-the Jungle Airship. Airship engineer Dr. Graham Dorrington embarks on a trip to the giant Kaieteur ... See full summary »
A few decades after the destruction of the Inca empire, a Spanish expedition leaves the mountains of Peru and goes down the Amazon river in search of gold and wealth. Soon, they come across great difficulties and Don Aguirres, a ruthless man who cares only about riches, becomes their leader. But will his quest lead them to "the golden city", or to certain destruction? Written by
Chris Makrozahopoulos <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Although plot details and many of the characters in "Aguirre, the Wrath of God"(1972) come directly from Werner Herzog's own imagination, historians have pointed out that the film fairly accurately incorporates some 16th-century events and historical personages into a fictional narrative. The film's major characters, Aguirre, Ursúa, Don Fernando, Inez and Florés, were indeed involved in a 1560 expedition that left Peru to find the city of El Dorado. Commissioned by Peru's governor, Ursúa organized an expeditionary group of 300 men to travel by way of the Amazon River. He was accompanied by his mixed-race mistress, Doña Inez. At one point during the journey, Aguirre, a professional soldier, decided that he could use the 300 men to overthrow the Spanish rule of Peru. Aguirre had Ursúa murdered and proclaimed Fernando as "The Prince of Peru". Fernando himself was eventually murdered when he questioned Aguirre's scheme of sailing to the Atlantic, conquering Panama, crossing the isthmus and invading Peru. Many others who attempted to rebel against Aguirre were also killed. The surviving soldiers conquered Isla Margarita off the coast of Venezuela and made preparations to attack the mainland. However, by that time Spanish authorities had learned of Aguirre's plans, and when the rebels arrived in Venezuela, government agents offered full pardons to Aguirre's men. All of them accepted the deal. Immediately prior to his arrest, Aguirre murdered his daughter Florés, who had remained by his side during the entire journey. He was then captured and dismembered. Herzog's screenplay merged this 1560 expedition with the events of an earlier Amazonian journey, that took place in 1541 and 1542. Like Ursúa, Gonzalo Pizarro and his men entered the Amazon basin in search of El Dorado. Various troubles afflicted the expedition and, sure that El Dorado was very close, Pizarro set up a smaller group led by Francisco de Orellana to break off from the main force and forge ahead, then return with news of what they had found. This group utilized a brigantine to journey down the river. Accompanying Orellana was Spanish Dominican friar Gaspar de Carvajal, who kept a journal of the group's experiences. The historic Gaspar de Carvajal (1500-1584) had settled in Peru and dedicated himself to the conversion of the Indians. While Carvajal's diary does indeed exist, the content as presented in the film is mostly invented by writer/director Herzog himself. See more »
The "dead" Indian slave opens his eyes as the horse walks by. See more »
AGUIRRE: THE WRATH OF GOD (1972) Spaniards in search of El Dorado descend down an intense mountain peak with barely a path on it. Men slosh through a wet jungle forest with cannibals, dragging horses, cannons and women on thrones with them. Rafts try to navigate harsh rapids with no end in sight, sending one of them into a whirlpool. This is the first ten minutes. And it is probably easier than what it took to make the film.
Werner Herzog's masterpiece follows Klaus Kinski as a conquistador leading a group of men through his personal madness in Peru, searching for the mythical city of gold. Kinski wasn't an actor, he was a time-traveller, and his performances for Herzog are his best. My favorite scene of all his work is in this film early-on: as the huge group of slaves struggle and burn their souls carrying a woman on a throne-chair against the unforgiving jungle mud and trees, Kinski suddenly appears in the middle to offer a helping hand. He writhes and morphs, grabbing the slaves and shoving them, screaming at the top of his lungs, "Fools!!! The sedan chair is stuck!"
AGUIRRE is what got Herzog noticed around the world as part of a new group of German filmmakers along with Fassbinder and Wenders. His previous film was EVEN DWARVES STARTED SMALL, which resulted in Kinski calling him, "A mere dwarf director." The battles between he and Kinski should be legendary by now. The final result in Herzog stating he will grab his gun and kill both himself and Kinski as the actor was threatening to leave the production. Kinski was convinced and finished the film.
This story and more is part of the excellent analog track by Herzog, covering all of the hardcore production that overwhelms the more famous Coppola problems making Apocalypse Now. Herzog didn't have millions of dollars, rather 300 grand, had to live on the rafts for months and deal with the jungle and Kinski. But he never bitches - you do what you have to do, and the film is never compromised, from the costumes, the beautiful real locations and the boat hanging in the tree to the eerie group of small monkeys at the end (which Herzog had to steal, even though he paid for them). The analog track is constant (many now seem to take pauses to watch the film) with background on the idea, actors, filming and philosophies. Yes, that is a real mummy in the cannibal camp, for which Herzog's brother had to buy a passenger ticket for the plane ride over.
The DVD is another fantastic release giving the nice treatment to a title that can't be making them millionaires. The image looks great and is not letterboxed, so I assume that that is how Herzog prefers it. The three trailers didn't add much to the presentation, but that's a minor point. When they are finished with the entire Herzog collection, it will be one of the most fascinating career studies on DVD.
46 of 62 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?