Aguirre, the Wrath of God [Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes] (1972)
Starring Klaus Kinski, Helena Rojo, Del Negro, Ruy Guerra, Peter Berling, Cecilia Rivera, Daniel Ades, Edward Roland
Directed by Werner Herzog
Expectations: High, but I’ve got a bad, pretentious feeling for some reason.
There aren’t many movies you could call both boring and captivating, but Aguirre, the Wrath of God is just that and more. It’s an enigmatic film, incrementally drawing you into its slow-moving and somewhat surreal world, and testing your sanity along with the characters’. From what I’ve seen of Herzog’s filmography, he’s long been fascinated with characters that push the bleeding edge of the human mind, characters that left the point of no return behind long, long ago. Aguirre, the Wrath of God is simultaneously a stunning Herzog film and an impenetrable one, reminding me of how I felt after watching 2001: A Space Odyssey for the first time, which is to say I’m a bit perplexed and will need to watch this one again to really get down on it.
Aguirre, the Wrath of God is about a 16th century expedition up the Amazon to find the city of gold, El Dorado. It’s a fool’s errand, of course, but that doesn’t stop these Spanish conquistadors from relentlessly pushing forward in spite of every odd stacked against them. Klaus Kinski plays Aguirre, the group’s second-in-command and lead nutjob. He quickly asserts his power and controls the men through wild promises of untold riches that await them ahead.