AGUIRRE, THE WRATH OF GOD
DIRECTOR: Werner Herzog;
Cinematography by Thomas Mauch:
Music: Popol Vuh;
With Klaus Kinski, Alejandro Repulles, Cecilia Rivera, Helena Rojo, Edward Roland, Dan Ades, Peter Berling, Ruy Guerra, Del Negro, Armando Polanha
FEATURES: The Music and the visuals are just awesome. Too bad they did not have Coppola equipment!
This is one of the best Werner Herzog films, and at the time, it put both him and Klaus Kinski. Together, Klaus became a better actor and Herzog a much more memorable film maker than simply one with odd stories to tell.
Klaus Kinski had done many B rated films through out Europe, and had never been able to acquire the respect he might have liked to have for a half way decent actor (even if his life is not ) and the quality of work he could do, when given the chance. Werner Herzog was a perfect vehicle, because it allowed Klaus to experiment and Werner to just shoot many rushes, when the actors don't know it. For this reason, many of Werner Herzog films, have characters which are well developed, but also show an inclination to do one or two things that don't seem to fit, but they work. Such is the price for improvisation on an expensive medium. Add libbing is often a better answer than a temperamental writer, or worse yet, a temperamental actor, which Klaus is, if the special (shown occasionally on PBS) on Fitzcarraldo is any indication. However, the continutity of the character is better, thus showing a side of the actor, which is not always found in the pre meditated and over studied acting styles.
Aguirre, the Wrath of God is a good film, if you happen to like to see an endless jungle, full of green-ery, mistery, and secret noises, and spaces. Acccompanying this visual film is the music of the German group POPOL VUH, whose music is moody, very well defined, and well applied. The music for this film was around, before the film was made, which suggests that the director took the feel of the music and built a scene around it. The perfect example is the opening of the film, when the music has a sad somberness to it, which is filled with an incredibly beautiful long shot of the Amazon jungle from a distance, with its fog moving in slow portions across a very large valley. Underneath, is the river, and Aguirre on his raft, running into the side of the river in the fog. The mistery, may be infused with blindness after all.
Aguirre is the story of the spanish explorer who went up the Amazon river to find Eldorado. He never reached that far, and disappeared totally, nothing of his voyage, raft, or belongings was ever found. The myths and legends say that the indians killed him, which the film plays to the hilt. By the time Aguirre arrived in the deep Amazon, many of the tribes had already been alerted to the evils of the 'white man in a hard robe' as the guayacu indians described the old spaniards in their armours. However, there is also a story that he did arrive at the higher plateaus of Peru and decided to stay there forever, for he found the area beautiful beyond belief, which the film also plays on.
In between this slow moving, but beautifully shot film, Aguirre tries to withstand the common ailments which befell those who tried to navigate an incredibly difficult river to maneuver, due to its size, and chaotic waters. He manages to survive until the end, when the arrows of the indians finally have done in all the menbers of the raft. The film ends with the raft moving downriver, bumping into a few rocks, turning, and moving down another slow stream, until it fades out of existance. The camera pans upwards to the sky and the film ends.
It isn't a great film, by any means, but it establishes what Werner Herzog will perfect in the later film NOSFERATU , which is a cohesion of music and visual style. Aguirre, though a curious film, is not an enjoyable film, though we may learn a line or two of history while watching it.
When looking at this film, it really is something for film addicts and art film students. Still, it is a good film. Has little dialogue, except for Aguirre's meanderings and fantasies. It is the study of one man's obsession.
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