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Cobra Verde (Slave Coast) Reviews

Page 1 of 9
Anthony L

Super Reviewer

October 1, 2009
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!
Ken S

Super Reviewer

July 13, 2007
Pure unadulterated delightful madness.
Eric B

Super Reviewer

October 16, 2009
"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.
Harlequin68
Harlequin68

Super Reviewer

April 2, 2007
[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][/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]
Marcus W

Super Reviewer

March 20, 2009
The problem with this film is the main character. Kinski does a great job but he feels two-dimensional and seems to go with the flow rather than having any actual goal - ala Forrest Gump. Fortunately, Herzog's skills as a director are in full flow here and there are countless lingering shots of absolute beauty that seem to strain the camera lens as he tries to encompass the entire scene. Visually, it's a wonder, but it lacks a soul.
careman1956
July 3, 2007
Another must see Herzog movie! Great music in this one as in some of his other movies. Pupul Vuh is a wonderful group that mixes the ancient sounds with the modern. Lots of CDs out by them. The older ones are the better ones. They did the soundtracks for a number of Herzog films.
November 9, 2013
Poetic madness with increidible realness rarely seen in film. The images will stay for a while. Locura poetico con una verdaderante real, Los imagenes se van a quedar por un rato
October 26, 2013
The final collaboration between Kinski and Herzog saw them venturing to Ghana to film the tale of an outlaw/slave trader who gets involved in the political affairs of that African country (not unlike the plot of Portecorvo's Burn/Quimada starring Brando). As usual, there is lots of emoting/glowering by Kinski (and Herzog reports that he was intolerable on the film, causing the early departure of the first cinematographer). So, things are a bit of a mess, but Herzog is working on a grand scale, with huge crowds (for example, topless "Amazonian" warriors preparing to overthrow the king in battle). So, there is a surreal over-lay, represented partly by Herzog's peculiar casting choices and/or their weird acting styles, but also by his decisions to let his camera rest on certain images or scenes (the "nun's choir"). True, I drifted off in the middle, but that blending of dream and film can't really be too far from Herzog's purpose. At the end, Kinski shows true acting prowess by getting tossed around in the surf. Of course, slavery is condemned.
ray
August 5, 2013
Diese letzte Zusammenarbeit zwischen Regisseur Werner Herzog und Schauspieldiva Klaus Kinski war ein kompletter Misserfolg. Für eine Dekade sollte sich Herzog in den Bereich der Dokumentarfilme zurückziehen und Kinski verstarb bereits vier Jahre später.

So schwer das zu glauben ist, Cobra Verde soll auch der Höhepunkt der Spannungen zwischen Herzog und Kinski gewesen sein. Wer die Geschichten über den Dreh von Aguirre oder Fitzcarraldo kennt, sollte dies nicht für möglich halten, aber Gerüchten zu Folge war dieser Dreh der Höhepunkt - eine absolute Katastrophe also.

In gewisser Weise zeigt sich das auch im fertigen Film. Kinski wirkt für seine Verhältnisse oft gelangweilt, nicht ganz bei der Sache oder uneinig mit der Idee des Charakters den er verkörpern soll.

Die Rolle des Cobra Verde ist natürlich keine einfache, aber dass Kinski zu großem fähig ist, wenn er motiviert ist, das weiß man. Und doch, zeigt sich häufig das Genie dieser fruchtvollen Zusammenarbeit. Wenn Kinski wutentbrannt herumschreit und wild gestikuliert oder wenn er in einem wunderschönen Endbild versucht ein Boot ins Meer zu ziehen und kläglich scheitert.
Herzog ist ein Regisseur des Scheiterns und Kinski ist ein Erfüller von Träumen und Dschinn, der jeden Wunsch erfüllt. In jeder ihrer Arbeiten spielt Kinski einen kleinen Mann, der großes will und das auch irgendwie schafft, glücklich wird er dabei am Ende jedoch nie (oder zumindest nicht so wie man das erwarten würde. Daraus ergibt sich eine Spannung die allen diesen Filmen eigen ist und sich auch in Cobra Verde findet.

Und doch ist der Film etwas niedriger zu werten als andere ihrer Erzeugnisse. Zu oft tritt Herzogs Stil in den Hintergrund und der Film artet zur Kinski-Show aus. Zu oft verliert sich die dokumentarische Qualität des Filmbilds und wird zur Kinski-Show.

Die eigentliche Qualität eines Herzog-Films liegt nämlich in seinem Auge für das natürliche Sein. Herzog will Filme über Dinge machen, die ihn faszinieren - über Gestalten wie Don Lope de Aguirre oder Francisco Manoel da Silva - und wenn die schon seit Jahrhunderten tot sind, muss man sie eben von Schauspielern verkörpern lassen.
Wenn jedoch ihr Leiden und ihr Wahn in den Hintergrund treten und der Schauspieler (in diesem Fall Kinski) in den Mittelpunkt tritt, dann muss man sagen, dass Herzog sein Ziel verfehlt hat.

Nichtsdestotrotz, ist Cobra Verde ein Film, den es sich lohnt anzusehen, wenn nicht für Herzog, dann wenigstens für Kinski.
james h.
January 12, 2013
measured, shocking and human
March 7, 2012
Herzog + Kinski=madness elevated to brilliance!
January 30, 2012
More of the same from the Herzog - Kinski collaboration and it is easy to see why this is their last film together. Kinski is aged, but this only brings out his maniac.
Faroeislander
November 22, 2010
This is the fifth and final Herzog and Kinski collaboration. It may not be as good as Aguirre, the Wrath of God and Fitzcarraldo, but it's still a great movie that you should see.
gillianren
June 21, 2010
Madness in Africa With Werner and Klaus

I haven't seen all of Kinski's Herzog films; we have two left there. On the other hand, the only not-Herzog film I've seen him in, I didn't realize it was him. (He plays a minor character in [i]Doctor Zhivago[/i].) Most of the not-Kinski Herzog I've seen has been documentaries. Therefore, I cannot say for sure if either man ever managed movies of the quality they reached together, but I don't think such chemistry would have been possible with anyone else. Oh, don't get me wrong--this is the last movie they ever worked on together, and by the end of filming, they were done with each other. I'm quite sure they weren't on speaking terms when Kinski died just a few years later. Herzog knew how to drive Kinski to the depths of madness needed to portray his various megalomaniacs, and the fascination Kinski seems to have held for him created an intensity in filming that is almost stalkerish.

This time, Kinski is Francisco Manoel da Silva, the titular [i]Cobra Verde[/i] (green snake). He is a bandit in the depths of Brazil (again), turned so by the failure of his ranch and the subsequent murder of an abusive boss. He is taken on by Don Octavio Coutinho (José Lewgoy), a local sugar baron, who wants da Silva to oversee his slaves. Alas, that's not all da Silva oversees--he impregnates all three of Coutinho's daughters. In the aftermath, da Silva reveals his identity as [i]Cobra Verde[/i]. Coutinho, in cahoots with several other pillars of the community, arranges to have da Silva go to Dahomey and start up the slave trade between the two countries once more, with everyone pretty much in agreement that they're really sending da Silva out to get himself killed. However, he instead entangles himself in some pretty byzantine Dahomean politics, with various rivals from the throne each trying to take advantage of the willingness of the white man to trade guns for slaves.

I know as near to nothing as makes no difference about the African royalty of the era, though the events don't strike me as all that improbable. Wikipedia confirms that there were female soldiers in Dahomey at the time, so there's that, and mad kings aren't unheard of. The story's based on a book which is based on someone's real life, but the only article of the three with any real detail is that of the movie. However, it does appear true that the real person, Francisco Felix de Sousa, kept trading after the trade had been abolished. And while I'm not entirely sure when the movie's set, the slave trade between Africa and Brazil wasn't abolished until 1850. However, from what I can work out (it's proving more difficult than I'd expected), Portugal abolished slave trade with Africa before Brazil became independent, so I think there was a span of about five years' abolition before it was started up again. And the UK stopped their African slave trade at the same time, so I think that works.

However, as with the other two Herzog/Kinski period pieces I've seen, the history doesn't entirely matter. The real Fitzcarraldo made hauling that boat over the mountain easier on himself than Herzog did. Herzog doesn't know any more about the real Aguirre than anyone else. It's just that the period setting in and of itself sets us outside the world inhabited by these people, so we can look at the people almost as artifacts. It doesn't matter what a historical da Silva would have been like, really. Oh, much of what Herzog shows about the slave trade is, so far as I know, pretty much historically accurate. However, he shows a detachment from what's onscreen. There is a scene where da Silva and another man are walking through a room where slaves have been chained, and da Silva casually steps over a few of them without missing a beat or a word of conversation. Everything is furniture or backdrop except the one man we're supposed to be watching.

It does feel a little uneven, though of course it's still not actually a bad movie. (Herzog must have a bad movie in him; everyone does. I just haven't seen it yet.) At times, it seems as though Herzog is more interested in the scenery than the story. There's a sequence where a message is being sent by semaphore, and we see a whole long row of slaves, shoulder to shoulder almost, flashing their white flags in movements slightly stuttered from one another, the message following its winding course to its destination. This is, of course, silly. For one, it would be hard to see your neighbour's movement that way. For another, that would take an insane number of slaves. On the other hand, it is a beautiful image, and perhaps it's intended to be insane. It's just another example of the profligacy shown by da Silva once he has power, which echoes and is echoed by everything Coutinho does to him. There is also something about Kinski's face which suggests that he's pondering what it might be like to live such a lifestyle himself.
Pedro R.
March 22, 2010
werner herzog and klaus kinksi?? did whe need to say more??
to be honest i found this movie the best of their colaboration! it was shot in wonderfull locations and and has powerfull images that stick in you mind like super glue!
And the one and only Klaus Kinski is wonderfull as usual, here in the role of a mercenary who fuck´s three teenage daughters of a landlord, and so he is sent to africa to trade slaves whit a crazed tribe chief!
Great Movie!
Harlequin68
Harlequin68

Super Reviewer

April 2, 2007
[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][/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]
Econ
September 13, 2005
So, I was driving the Ecomobile down the freeway without a care in the world when [size=6]ZAP! BAM! ZIIIIIING![size=2] something big, brown and fast deflected off my hood and left a major indentation in my windshield. Fortunately, I had my sunglasses on and the 'object' hit pretty much right of center so most the glass went flying into the unoccupied passanger seat). Now I gotta shell out some century notes to get the damn thing replaced.


Oh and I think it was a piece of wood. Bastards. I'm gonna go down yonder and cut me a tree to satisfy my bloodlust.[/size][/size]
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