Cobra Verde - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Cobra Verde Reviews

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November 28, 2017
As always Klaus Kinski portrays a larger-than-life character, as always Werner Herzog tackles with the seemingly impossible tasks of location shooting with a lot of extras. This time the story concerns slavery just before it was abolished altogether, the last vestiges of this horrible activity performed by humanity. The last shot of Kinski's helpless attempts of trying to move a boat to water is haunting and symbolic. This last collaboration nevertheless lacks the mystical power of their previous efforts.
September 14, 2017
Too many drawn out shots of things Herzog thought was moving. Sure, we will remember them, only because you made us watch them for ten minutes. This artistic aspect undermined the final product. I'm not a fan of Klaus.
February 2, 2017
this final work between star & director was awesome
½ December 6, 2016
Francisco Manoel da Silva (Klaus Kinski) is a debauched Brazilian rancher who reluctantly goes to work at a gold mining company after his ranch is ruined by drought. When he discovers that he is being financially exploited, he murders his boss and goes on the lam to pursue a career as an outlaw. He becomes the notorious Cobra Verde (Green Snake), the most vicious bandit of the servao. In his travels, da Silva encounters and subdues an escaped slave, an act that impresses wealthy sugar baron Don Octávio Coutinho (José Lewgoy). Don Coutinho, unaware that he is dealing with the legendary bandit, hires da Silva to oversee the slaves on his sugar plantation. When da Silva subsequently impregnates all three of the Don's daughters, the sugar baron is furious, but the situation becomes even more complicated when he discovers that da Silva is none other than the infamous Cobra Verde. As punishment, rather than kill him or have him prosecuted, Don Coutinho decides to send da Silva on the impossible mission of re-opening the slave trade with Western Africa. The bandit is aware he is likely to be killed in Africa, but accepts anyway. He travels by sea to Dahomey, West Africa, where he must negotiate with the fearsome King Bossa Ahadee of Dahomey (played by His Honor the Omanhene Nana Agyefi Kwame II of Nsein, a village north of the city of Axim, Ghana). Amazingly, da Silva succeeds in convincing the King to exchange slaves for new rifles. He takes over Elmina Castle and takes Taparica (King Ampaw), sole survivor of the previous expedition, for a partner. They begin operating the slave trade across the Atlantic to Brazil. Soon, however, the fickle king has them captured and brought before him. The King accuses da Silva of various crimes that he has no knowledge of, including poisoning the King's greyhound, and sentences him to death. He and Taparica are rescued the night prior to da Silva's decapitation by the King's nephew, who negotiates a blood alliance with da Silva, planning to overthrow the King. The ambitious bandit trains an enormous army of native women, and leads them on a raid to successfully overthrow King Bossa...

In the documentary 'My Best Fiend' Herzog says that when directing Kinski in this film he found him 'uncontrollable'. I was surprised when watching it to sense that Kinski was burnt out and actually seemed too old for his role. The film opens with a Brazilian folk musician starting to sing us the 'Ballad of Cobra Verde'. Cobra Verde was the last film that Werner Herzog would make with Klaus Kinski. Their now-legendary personality conflict peaked during the film. The film's production was especially affected by Kinski's fiery outbursts. The cast and crew were continually plagued by Kinski's wrath, most famously culminating in the film's original cinematographer Thomas Mauch walking out on the project after a perpetual torrent of verbal abuse from Kinski. Herzog was forced to replace Mauch with Viktor R?i?ka. The fifth and last of the Werner Herzog/Klaus Kinski collaborations, the other four being: Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972), Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979), Woyzeck (1979) & Fitzcarraldo (1982).

It´s quite clear when watching "Cobra Verde" that the production was plagued by the strain between Herzog and Kinski and it´s also obvious that Kinski is not in balance as he seems to be playing a crazy version of himself rather than da Silva. The plot is very fluctuant, the acting everywhere and not really of quality, the editing is strange and not coherent, it has several strange scenes, the dubbing is awful and as said Kinski seems to have been close to madness during the shoot. There´s something haunting in "Cobra Verde", but it still struggles in so many ways as a film. Herzog´s experimental way of shooting worked in "Aguirre, the Wrath of God", but not really here. "Cobra Verde" is a disappointment in my eyes.
November 12, 2016
Werner Herzog's final collaboration with Klaus Kinski and I'm pretty sure it's my favourite of the five film gems.
July 30, 2016
The last scene in this film is the last Herzog ever shot with Kinski before his death...and probably one of the most beautiful i have ever seen on screen...The film itself isn't great by any means but if you sit through it you will be glad you watched it by the time the film gets to it.
July 1, 2016
Herzog and Kinski's final collaboration is an incoherent disappointment. Kinski - looking like a Napoleonic Iggy Pop - plays a mercenary slave trader. Fabulous locations and occasionally memorable set pieces can't excuse the sloppy camera work and indulgent direction. Popol Vuh's music is small compensation.
½ August 9, 2015
I had the same look the Prince did throughout this movie.
½ March 21, 2015
Flawed, but utterly awe-inspiring in its vision and scope. It has holes for sure, and its amoral stance will likely prove troubling for some, but it's still Herzog and Kinski giving it their all.
½ January 20, 2015
Herzog & Kinski never fails
½ October 25, 2014
Kinski muito perto de um surto dramático, fotografia soberba, roteiro oscilante--que em outros diretores costuma ser defeito--: 'Cobra Verde' é Herzog expondo seus melhores talentos.
Aguirre e Fitzcarraldo são superiores, por narrarem mitos mais poderosos, mas 'Cobra' talvez seja um dos melhores filmes já realizados sobre a escravidão (ainda que aqui o mote dos escravos sirva de apoio para contar outras histórias).
½ August 1, 2014
I am so enthralled with the madness that is Klaus Kinski under the genius that is Werner Herzog!
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 27, 2013
Kinski looks like an old lesbian with that hair, and I couldn't swallow that anyone would be afraid of his mincing poser of a character. Herzog's direction is, as always, mind-boggling, though once again a terrible DVD transfer reduces the impact of his amazing compositions. I need to get the Blu-rays or something.
½ 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.
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.
January 12, 2013
measured, shocking and human
Super Reviewer
December 11, 2012
It's Herzog, so of course.
August 11, 2012
Starts off strong in the first half hour. It gradually began to lose me over the rest of the film. What kept me involved, if not engaged, was Kinski's performance and the amazing visuals that Herzog always seem to capture.
½ April 10, 2012
Madness, just madness. Simply put, this movie is about bad men on both sides of the slave trade. Klaus Kinski is great in the role of the bandit, Cobra Verde, who was sent to West Africa to procure more slaves for a Brazilian plantation. How his success proves to be his undoing is is vividly portrayed.
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