Not Your Typical Herzog, But Very Interesting Nonetheless.
This is episode #9 from the 13x45min German television series called "2000 Years of Christianity"." God and the Burdened" is Werner Herzog's contribution to the project.
In this episode Herzog travels to Antigua, the former capital of Guatemala, where he observes and discusses how the native residents have combined their ancient Aztec beliefs with converted (mainly catholic) Christian beliefs; and how this collaboration has led to the creation of a number of peculiar practices of faith. First Herzog talks about the ancient Aztec beliefs, showing us one of the most well protected Aztec texts that documents and illustrates their Gods and the beliefs that had developed around them. He then goes on to describe how the Conquistadors invaded, conquered, and converted the natives- or "pilgrims" as they are called in this film- by carrying out one of history's most brutal and bloody conquests- killing them by both force and disease. We are then provided with images of the modern day relatives of these natives (who make up the majority population of Guatemala) as they practice their now hybridized Christian beliefs. Some of these practices include blowing smoke on statues of Spanish priests and conquerors; as well as drenching each other with what looks to be some sort of oil. What makes this particularly interesting is how the Guatemalans were never fully converted, instead having combined their previously held beliefs with those brought by the invaders; and how they seem to worship statues of the Conquistadors the same way they do Jesus. With this in mind, Herzog leaves us with the question...what does Jesus mean to them? A very interesting documentary, especially if you are interested in Aztec culture and the conquest of the Americas. Cinematography isn't Herzog's best, and it is narrated by someone other than Herzog. But a great addition for you Herzog fans and completists either way!
Worth checking out if you can find it!!! 7 out of 10
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