During the 1800s, paroled Brazilian bandit Cobra Verde is sent to West Africa with a few troops to man an old Portuguese fort and to convince the local African ruler to resume the slave trade with Brazil.
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 wishes him gone. Rather than kill him,the owner sends Cobra Verde to Africa. The only white man in the area, Cobra Verde finds himself the victim of torture and humiliation. Later, he trains soldiers in a rebel army. Far from home, Cobra Verde is on the edge of madness.Written by
Ken Miller <email@example.com>
The kingdom of Dahomey, where the African part of the story is allegedly set, was in present day Benin, while Elmina Castle is located in present day Ghana, 500 km to the West. See more »
Poor Singing Musician:
That will cost you money. Ladies and gentlemen, you'll have to pay up, If you want me to sing the ballad of Francisco Manoel, The bandit Cobra Verde, The poorest of the poor, The master of the slaves, It was he who became Viceroy, It was he who was the Alonest of the Alone.
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This movie is very absorbing: the cinematography is excellent, and the movie is full of eye-popping scenery and images, as well as intense exchanges of dialogue. One just doesn't find this combination at the movies very often.
Parts of the movie have such vivid but exotic imagery, that it seems surreal (the segment where the Amazon warriors are gathering for battle is a case in point!). Other parts seem almost operatic - especially the exchanges between Francisco Manoel da Silva (Klaus Kinski) and the mad African king, who has taken da Silva prisoner and plans to kill him.
Klaus Kinski is totally compelling in the lead role as Cobra Verde, a swashbuckling bandit-rogue who, partly through fate, partly through crooked machinations of those around him, gets sent off to a Brazilian slave fortress on the coast of West Africa to scout for slaves to bring back to Brazil. I had forgotten how old a man Mr. Kinski was, and was curious to find out his age when he made this film. I checked his stats, and to my astonishment I discovered that he was 62 years old when he made this film. His performance is truly amazing. Would that I have that much fire and energy when I am 62!
I heartily recommend this movie to anyone who is sick and tired of the usual pap that too often fills the screens these days. Though this film was made in 1988, nothing in it seems dated. Just based on its subject matter, it already has a built-in "timeless" quality to it. I think it will hold up well over the years. Go rent it!
By the way, for those of you who like these sorts of films, then another movie that I would recommend as a companion piece to this film is James Ivory's "Heat and Dust" (1982). Though much more "tranquil" and sans the fiery acting of a Klaus Kinski in the lead role, that film, set in India, too had excellent cinematography and a compelling, historically-based story with memorable images and characters.
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