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This unique movie is largely a comedy about the absurdity of men and their obsessed desires for riches and glory, and how these desires lead to foolishness and cruelty... which is ironically mirrored by Herzog's obsession to make this movie.
Aguirre, The Wrath of God is a great iconic film thou one can understand the complaints. The movie is largely improvised with the plot changing with the productions problems, most plot and action is implied than explicitly played out. All of the dialogue which would be in Spanish (but filmed originally in English for an international audience) is dubbed afterwards, and dubbed into German for TV and left like that. Not sure if any of sounds in the movie are actually from the scenes, the birds are stock recordings and probably most of the sound effects . The Popol Vuh music is incredible, beautiful, and iconic. Not sure if Kinski is actually doing much acting as he is mostly either pissed or brooding, but he does appear to stay in character quite convincingly. Apparently Kinski's voice is never in the movie at all since he refused to dub his lines, so his lines are done by a voice actor?
Not a movie for everyone, and if you don't pay close attention at first you won't understand the story, but is very rewarding to watch again and again.
Historical fiction is a great genre of films that I have only recently become obsessed with thanks to Young Mr. Lincoln (1939), JFK (1991) and this exceptional Werner Herzog directed classic. There was a certain fear that I felt going into this film because it had been built up so much and I was worried I either would not like it or would not get it intellectually. The second concern was partially proven true because I could not provide an intellectual analysis of this film that would be satisfactory but I was swept up in the emotions and the crazy Klaus Kinski of this movie enough to enjoy it as a piece of cinema even without â~getting it'. This is actually a great movie to watch with your father because it is both awe-inspiring, disturbing and funny.
Lope de Aguirre, Klaus Kinski, is a dangerously ambitious Spanish conquistador who is under the command of Gonzalo Pizarro, Alejandro RepullÃ (C)s, as they journey through the East Andes looking for El Dorado in the 16th century. Aguirre manages to split off from Pizarro and launch a mutiny, as his tyranny continues and the resources he works with dwindles Aguirre becomes more and more crazed. The conquistadors defend themselves against local Indian tribes as they journey down the river and this causes most of the casualties.
The music and cinematography of the film is what has stuck in my mind most because it is all very distinctive and obviously hugely influential on films like Apocalypse Now (1979). A German progressive rock band called Popol Vuh that I had never heard of composed the entire soundtrack and they did a great job at creating a mood of wonder and almost religious suffering in the right moments. The deep hues of the color that Herzog photographs in this film is stunning and the fact that they shot on location in the Peruvian rainforest with native Peruvians serving as extras gives the film a sense of authenticity that only makes the descent into madness more realistic. The spinning shot at the end of the film and the opening scene of the Conquistadors making their dangerous trek through the mountains are particularly brilliant.
Kinski's performance in the lead role is one of those where I find it to be both magnificent and completely ridiculous and over the top. His giant bug eyes and platinum blonde hair make him extremely believable as a crazy man and his monologues are visceral and terrifying. Hearing speeches that are generally about a man wanting to become a dictator delivered in angry German will always have a Nazi connotation. I understand that Kinski is very influential as an actor and I can see where Marlon Brando's performance in Apocalypse Now has shades of Aguirre.
The only other Werner Herzog film I have seen is Little Dieter Needs to Fly (1997) and that is a documentary with a very different tone. His attention to detail and ability to display fear and mania are on full display here as his camera focuses on the bodies of dead men and then cuts immediately to Aguirre philosophizing as a crazed person. I am now desperate to explore the rest of his feature films but I worry they won't match the experience of his breakout film. Although I am not completely on board with Kinski as an actor I expect his other collaborations with Herzog to be equally fantastic. Who knows, I may even listen to some Popol Vuh in my spare time after appreciating their work here so much.
This is definitely one of those seminal films that you absolutely have to watch, unlike the pretentious Breathless (1960), if you want to understand where all of those great 70s and 80s films made about hysteria come from. The film is also oddly funny and extremely entertaining despite it's dark subject matter. German cinema has given us many great masterpieces, from Metropolis (1927) to Tartuffe (1925), this is one of the films that deserves to be ranked up there because it's a stunning portrait of a man's own ambition eating him alive and how the claustrophobic environment of the jungle causes people to become even more wild than they would usually be.
Aguirre Der Zorn Gottes(Wrath of God): Hertzog’s direction is tangible in fervent thrills and haunting in scope- as well as visual look. Wrath of God is a masterpiece of German Cinema and excellent craft overall.
Werner Herzog movies all feel somewhat like an uncomfortable drug withdrawal. Yet everyone is entitled to experiencing it for the sake of experiencing it. The main character is very scheming up to the last minute of the film. And it just proves how once power is attained, it can lead to any person's downfall.
Good god this film is great! Klaus Kinski is terrifying in his role as Aguirre.
I know it's almost blasphemous to criticise a movie like this, which has become so deeply woven into the fabric of cinema. Unfortunately I feel largely the same way about this movie as I do about 2001: A Space Odyssey, another film you're not in any way allowed to speak negatively of.
The movie has some stunning landscape shots, a simplistic but haunting musical score, and I liked how the environments reflected the mood and state of mind of the characters, whether it be bleak, desolate or violent. Particularly impressive is how the beautiful nature of South America contrasts with the increasingly disturbed mentality our protagonist descends into. Unfortunately this movie is so poorly paced that it becomes very ponderous very quickly. It tries to be moody and contemplative, even when there's very little to contemplate. The dialogue is uninteresting, many of the characters just disappear from the movie without us discovering anything about them, and while Kinski has some great moments, he spends most of the movie looking bored out of his mind. In fact an alternative title to this movie could be 'Klaus Kinski Stares Off Into The Distance With Complete Indifference.' It promises a lot, and I admire how well respected it is, and how much influence it had on movies like Apocalypse Now, one of my all-time favourites, but so little actually happens in the film that probably the most exciting scene is one where a horse gets slightly agitated. Thankfully it doesn't fall into the trap of being several hours long, but even at 90 minutes it feels unnecessarily protracted.
Insane Conquistadors Against Incas, Nature, & God
Werner Herzog recreates a Spanish conquistador battalion in the Peruvian forests searching for the mythological El Dorado. It's a harrowing journey marred by famine and Inca natives defending their home.
The real star is, of course, Klaus Kinski in all his madness. He plays the conquistador, Aguirre, a man with delusions of grandeur. It becomes clearer and clearer as the film goes on that Kinski's character is indeed deluded by his mission to conquer. He fancies himself a successor to Cortez, but his mission is so obviously doomed from the start.
Watch as Herzog masterfully recreates rafting through rapids, 1560's meals, strategy, and a religious hypocrisy in the Spanish arrogance in attempting to rule lands they are so very ignorant of in all. This movie is well shot with long pans and hand cams, well acted and the dialogue is thoughtful.
Aguirre makes you wonder what the point of it all really is in the violence. It can get slow, but I found so many aspects of Aguirre, The Wrath of God to be fascinating throughout the film. An early Herzog master class in film-making.
A tough film to review really, because in a lot of ways I respect it more than I like it. I actually respect the hell out of this movie. Werzog is not a classically trained director, which leads to his amateurish and often outright hazardous methods of working that lead to some one-of-a-kind film scenarios. That is much of the joy in a movie like this, seeing everything on screen and knowing it's actually there. It's really a beautiful looking film shot on location in the jungle and rivers. I also loved Klaus Kinski's performance as the titular character. He is a fascinatingly insane man, both the character and Kinski himself, and whenever he is on screen he is hypnotic to watch. All this being said, this is often a difficult film to watch. It's what they would call "deliberately paced" and nothing really happens and it ends with no real conclusion. That's sort of the point, but still, it makes it a chore to sit through at times. I'm okay with slow-paced movies, but there were quite a few times in this where it felt like things could have moved along much faster than they did. The movie did actually sit well with me though, better than I expected it to, so I give it a moderate recommendation but only if you're into this sort of thing.
Love this movie! The atmosphere Herzog creates is hauntingly surreal.
But what is most hypnotizing about this film is the story it tells. It is a "descent into madness" tale that sits right up there with The Shining.
A visually engulfing spectacle that blends the environment with the characters right away. It takes mutiny and pushes it to a raft and jungle and throws in crazy Kenski and Herzog to create a mix of fighting the elements an outward battle. Animals are tortured throughout as this is all about the classic lines that are tough as this one is long. Great jungle film but you start to feel you are on that raft with them and it gets old as this one wears you down. Better as a Doc or hearing what they went through during filming then what you see on film. Great soundtrack as that is the winner here along with small moments from our lead.