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Posts Tagged ‘German Cinema’

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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