In in 16th century, the ruthless and insane Aguirre leads a Spanish expedition in search of El Dorado.
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So, readers, this next movie should be MANDATORY viewing for anyone with a pulse; I'm of course talking about Aguirre: Wrath of God.
Klaus Kinski plays a haunting conquistador (Gonzalo Pizzaro) who takes a crew with him to try to find El Dorado. Again, I find beauty in the simplest features. This film's setting is essentially the crew on a raft going down the Amazon questing for the fabled city of gold. But what the most intriguing aspect of this film is, is the not-so gradual descent into madness by Pizzaro. Kinski dives into this characters' tenacious quest further towards insanity.
The feral, savage, look in Aguirre's eyes show you exactly how his character feels. The complete disregard for the crew's health also is almost as intriguing as it is tormenting to watch. The stoic Kinski is only emphasized by close-tight shots, that recall Dreyer's "The Passion of the Joan of Arc". I have never felts as many chills as I have when Kinski is having his monologue where he realized he is the wrath of god.
There are many myths about the shooting of this feature, one absurd one is that Kinski refused to go on filming so Werner Hertzog had to keep him at gunpoint to finish the shoot. But if that's what it took to create this chilling of a tale, then I would have supplied the gun myself for this brilliant depiction of madness.
This is a truly eye-widening depiction about the pitfalls of questing for greed, and the disregard for his fellow crew members... This sounds pretty familiar doesn't it? It should mirror something or someone that world was severely affected by fairly recently. As Aguirre stands at the front of his raft, his crew members behind him get more and more suspicious of the true motives of their "fearless" leader.
One aspect of this film I really appreciate is the pessimistic, fearful journal entries that are read in voice over by the monk in this film. He keeps a record of the crew's thoughts, and his personal battles as the raft goes closer and closer to nowhere. It is a soul-crushing way to show the inner torment the crew is experiencing (aside from their clear descent into delirium). Every new journal entry is a catalog of the increasing trepidation to follow their leader who eventually threatens all of them, unless they stay on board.
There is some interesting camera play and cinematography as well. Any POV shot of Aguirre is a lot more clouded and hazy then the rest of the crew, and at the same time, it has a bit of a shaky effect. Perhaps this is included where Aguirre says something especially off-kilter, this is the camera's way of "underlining" the statement to make it stand out. It is supposed to make you grow distant and uncomfortable, but that is just a theory I have.
This cinematography summarizes the entire story at the final haunting shot of the film, which I won't spoil, but it reiterates all the themes of isolation, madness, and the general nauseating feeling that this movie induces. This is essentially a story of the blind leading the blind, but it is done with the clearest vision and intent of how to show this. It is realized here, why and how Herzog and Kinski made their impact on the film industry.
AGUIRRE WRATH OF GOD