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Posts Tagged ‘Aguirre: The Wrath of God’

Werner Herzog’s epic 1972 film, chronicles a historical time period in the Peruvian Andes Mountains. Sixteenth century Spanish conquistadors slowly make their way down the treacherous narrow mountain paths to find El Dorado – the City of Gold (the aerial filming is amazing). Although they claim and hold on to the belief that they are only there to “Christianize” the “savages,” it becomes apparent through the ruthless and crazed leadership of Aguirre, that they are out to get as much land and slaves as they can.

Journal reflections that were kept by a Spanish monk, who was on the voyage, are read throughout the film to narrate the events of the expedition and the descent of one man’s psyche. Aguirre kills off the leader of the conquest and appoints another solider as King. No longer is the group heeding to the commands of the Spanish crown; instead they are in search of El Dorado for themselves. As Aguirre’s faculties diminish and his men starve to death, natives kill each member of the expedition by bow and arrow. What happens to Aguirre is worth watching to the end.

Audience members are taken on a journey through lush jungles that are filled with defending natives and quiet, still, Amazonian River waters. Filming in a gripping documentary style Herzog encouraged the actors to improvise and react to their situations. Klaus Kinski who plays Aguirre is very convincing, probably because he was a little off his rocker in actuality. It has been said that during filming, Kinski would shoot bullets into actor’s tents and have continual temper tantrums. Kinski at one point threatened to leave the film but Herzog became so upset with this that he threatened to kill Kinski and then himself.

Aguirre: The Wrath of God is a cult classic. Herzog’s definitive dream-like imagery is utilized beautifully throughout the film. Francis Ford Coppola was very much inspired by Herzog’s work when he created Apocalypse Now. When viewing both films one will recognize right away similar filming and story-line comparisons. Furthermore, one will find a comparison between two brilliant actors (Brando and Kinski) who happened to be very demanding.

Another cult classic that is German produced and stars another Kinski is the film Paris, Texas. Klaus Kinski’s daughter Nastassja Kinski stars in this powerfully haunting film. Expansive scenes of desolate deserts coupled with a poignant musical score by Ry Cooder makes for an excellent movie event!

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Have you ever had the experience where a film, a novel, a piece of music, or a painting triggered a momentous effect in your life? Did it change the way you think? Did it change you? For Robert Kennedy, the existential literary works of Albert Camus changed his viewpoints on capital punishment. For Jackson Pollock, the psychoanalytical writings of Carl Jung influenced the painter to create a new style later termed abstract expressionism. For me, Walden, by Henry David Thoreau opened up a world guided in the ideas of simplicity and spirituality found in nature. “Let us first be as simple and well as Nature ourselves, dispel the clouds which hang over our brows, and take up a little life into our pores. Do not stay to be an overseer of the poor, but endeavor to become one of the worthies of the world.” – Walden, Henry David Thoreau

As a child, I always loved playing in the woods and going for hikes, but until I read Walden, I did not truly appreciate and see the beauty of nature and what it has to offer. A forest, a pond, a meadow serve as places of refuge. Here in these natural spaces, one can slow down and listen to their inner self. One can gather thoughts, meditate, or simply just take in the sights and sounds that surround them. For me, the natural world is a place where I can rejuvenate, heal, pray, and find answers. Ironically in the reclusive act of a solitary hike, I find myself loving humanity more through the discovery of the natural world.

Walden has left a strong, indescribable presence which lingers in the depths of my subconscious. It surfaces from time to time and when it does, it consciously and subconsciously leads me to my Walden Pond.

So how does this reflection relate to films? Well, it doesn’t. But I did this for a reason. After quietly observing the sun rise and cast its rays between tall Sycamores and flowering Oak trees, I felt a need to voice my appreciation and concern. Across the world societies are forgetting that there is nothing more beautiful and wondrous than nature. Children are becoming isolated from the natural world and are lacking exposure to its wonders. Yes, one can see a film where there is a gorgeous scene of a waterfall in a South American jungle or a distant snow capped mountain in Nepal but that hardly compares to the real thing.

However, films can inspire us to actively seek that place of beauty. Last week, Angela discussed how the film A Month by the Lake inspired her to see the luminous views of Lake Como. Although Walden will always serve as my guide and source of inspiration, I have found some foreign films that capture exquisite and stunning scenes of natural spaces that encourage me to go and visit.

La Belle Noiseuse, Claire’s Knee, Four Adventures of Reinette and Mirabelle, and To Be and To Have – Four films that portray the whimsical French countryside.

The Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries, and The Passion Anna – Three Ingmar Bergman films, where scenes of high coastal cliffs and flat desolate landscapes reflect the character’s personas.

Aguirre: The Wraith of God – Werner Herzog’s odyssey through the ancient Peruvian mountains.

This week, instead of suggesting a film to see, I suggest you go out and visit some natural places that inspire you!
“You only need sit still long enough in some attractive spot in the woods that all its inhabitants may exhibit themselves to you by turns.”- Walden, Henry David Thoreau

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