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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>
Florian Fricke, who composed the film's music, was a friend of Herzog's. They had played football ("soccer" in the US) together. See more »
When Pizarro sends off the expedition, he expects them to return in one week. However, when Don Pedro tells the men that they have to return by foot, he says that they could make it in two weeks "as Pizarro said". See more »
Filmed not far from Machu Picchu, the legendary lost city of the Incas in the mountains of Peru, the opening images of this film are breathtaking in their natural grandeur and visual scale. A long cavalcade of 16th century Spanish soldiers slowly winds its way, serpentine like, down a steep mountain face. It's one of the most impressive and awe-inspiring openings in film history.
The soldiers are searching for El Dorado, the fabled Andean city of gold. The caravan includes the story's main character, Aguirre (Klaus Kinski), a greedy, ambitious soldier who will stop at nothing in his quest for riches and power. Also included is Inez, a young, well-meaning woman who wears blue velvet and white lace. Representing the Spanish Crown, she rides in a wheeless carriage, described in the movie as the "sedan-chair", a flimsy, enclosed wooden box toted by other soldiers. The carriage, painted blue and red, is so out of place in this rugged wilderness, it's the first clue that the entire mission is a fool's errand, based on romantic dreams and delusions. Against the backdrop of towering mountains and dense jungle, the sedan-chair and Inez' regal looking clothes make Spanish royalty look impotent.
Eventually, only a small convoy of soldiers, along with Inez and her sedan-chair proceed, as El Dorado becomes ever more elusive. Down the Amazon River the little band of adventurers traverse, encountering one problem after another. Aguirre, having long since taken command, leads them on, ever in search of that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Throughout the film, Aguirre rarely smiles. He displays a strange body language, sometimes leaning sideways or backwards, his thoughtful, stern face with reactions that are slow and deliberate. His behavior suggests other Messianic "leaders", like Jim Jones, who led his flock of followers to their doom in 1978 in the jungles of Guyana.
"Aguirre, The Wrath Of God" is a story of adventure, a story about the mystery of the unknown. It's a story about dreams and fantasies of greed. It's a very physical film. Every single scene, without exception, was filmed outdoors.
It's a non-Hollywood type film, too. There are no sets, and some of the plot and dialogue are improvised, enhancing spontaneity and grim realism. It's a film not unlike "Deliverance" (1972).
"Aguirre, The Wrath Of God" is one of the most visually striking film I have ever seen. And the underlying theme of mankind's arrogance, against an implacable Nature, is starkly apparent. The film is visionary, profound. It will leave many viewers changed, enriched, perhaps even a little wiser.
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