Cobra Verde (Slave Coast) (1987)
Director Werner Herzog, as usual, has spared no one -- especially himself -- in bringing this story of 19th-century African slave trading to the screen. Klaus Kinski plays an enterprising young Brazilian who after impregnating the three daughters of his plantation-owning employer, is sent to West Africa to round up slaves. Kinski goes to great lengths to befriend the very people he hopes to enslave and he eventually manages to overthrow a mad monarch and set himself up as king. As the years pass, Kinski grows wealthy -- and careless. However, despite enslaving the tribe, he does show some signs of humanitarian benevolence. This fifth and final collaboration between director Herzog and Kinski is considered the weakest of the five features. Though the title translates literally as Green Cobra , Cobra Verde was released in the U.S. as Slave Coast. … More
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Critic Reviews for Cobra Verde (Slave Coast)
The type of crazed, folkloric epic that Germany's own De Niro-Scorsese duo usually excelled at.
The final third of this film contains sequences of horrifying sublimity and ethereal beauty, moments that have a clarity and power beyond the reach of reason.
Verde is too blankly amoral to sustain interest, but the film has isolated moments of haunting poetry.
It's easy to understand why this was Herzog's final collaboration with the actor, but Kinski's performance nevertheless serves up a potent confusion of documentary and fiction that has long been an essential element of Herzog's filmmaking.
Though less apocalyptical than usual, the imagery is as lavish as ever, but the film is wrecked by an underwritten narrative.
The results are like Kinski's performance: baffling, breathtaking and strangely beautiful.
Those who give this offbeat production a chance will find it unforgettable.
Linear storytelling was never Herzog's strong suit even under the best of conditions. His strength lies in capturing lucid lunacy on film, and Manoel da Silva's descent into the jaws of madness is a straight shot into the heart of darkness.
Herzog & Kinski = Logic and passion.
Audience Reviews for Cobra Verde (Slave Coast)
When Herzog switches on a camera, wonderful things happen! This film has some of the most peculiar and wonderful scenes I've ever seen. Kinski and Herzog are a match made in Heaven on film, it?s a crime they made so few films together! This is an underrated classic!More
"Cobra Verde" may be unjustifiably obscure, but it's also no match for its heralded older brothers "Aguirre: The Wrath of God" and "Fitzcarraldo." Director Werner Herzog and enfant terrible Klaus Kinski are teamed for the fifth and last time, but the chemistry seems off.
"Cobra Verde" has a more complex story than "Aguirre" and "Fitzcarraldo," despite having a similar plot about a driven fanatic undertaking a seemingly impossible mission. Kinski plays the title character, a roaming South American bandit who takes a job at a sugar plantation, only to fall out of favor after he impregnates the boss's daughters. As a result, he is pressed to sail overseas to barter slaves from Dahomey. It is expected that he will not return alive. Settling down in Africa, he becomes embroiled in a conflict between two rival kingdoms, and his original objective fades away in the chaos.
Kinski's performance is a bit erratic -- sometimes he's a man of sullen intimidation, other times he's the feral lunatic we expect -- and Herzog fails to get inside his head, instead seeming more interested in choreographing large crowd scenes. The rites and costumes of the natives *are* fascinating, but the illusion is punctured when they speak to Kinski in perfect German. Even Popol Vuh's droning soundtrack seems indifferent next to the group's masterful work on earlier Herzog projects.
The film's quirkier virtues include a goat receiving communion and a tribal girl's choir so shockingly charismatic that one wonders why they didn't follow Ladysmith Black Mambazo to international success. Hey, they even worked topless.
[font=Century Gothic]In "Cobra Verde", Francisco Manoel da Silva aka Cobra Verde(Klaus Kinski) is the most feared bandit in all of Brazil. One day, he is hired by Don Octavio Coutinho(Jose Lewgoy) to be the new overseer of his plantation. He excels at his job but also impregnates three of the boss' teenaged daughters, angering him a great deal. In trying to decide what to do with da Silva, Coutinho and his cronies come up with a plan to send him to Africa to reopen the slave trade, so dangerous a mission that it is a veritable death sentence.[/font]
[font=Century Gothic]Written and directed by Werner Herzog, "Cobra Verde" is a scathing indictment of the slave trade at a time when little value was given to a human life, laying blame equally on profiteers both in Africa and Brazil . All of which is seen through the eyes of the movie's amoral protagonist who ventures from one land to the other without ever truly fitting in.[/font]
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