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Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972)

Cast: Klaus Kinski, Klaus Kinski, Cecilia Rivera, more...
Director: Werner Herzog, Werner Herzog
    see all cast/crew...
Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Anchor Bay
Genre: Foreign, Germany, Adventure, Wilderness & Nature, Latin America
Running Time: 94 min.
Languages: English, German
Subtitles: English
    see additional details...

The most famed and well-regarded collaboration between New German Cinema director Werner Herzog and his frequent leading man, Klaus Kinski, this epic historical drama was legendary for the arduousness of its on-location filming and the convincing zealous obsession employed by Kinski in playing the title role. Exhausted and near to admitting failure in its quest for riches, the 1650-51 expedition of Spanish conquistador Gonzalo Pizarro (Alejandro Repulles) bogs down in the impenetrable jungles of Peru. As a last-ditch effort to locate treasure, Pizarro orders a party to scout ahead for signs of El Dorado, the fabled seven cities of gold. In command are a trio of nobles, Pedro de Ursua (Ruy Guerra), Fernando de Guzman (Peter Berling), and Lope de Aguirre (Kinski). Traveling by river raft, the explorers are besieged by hostile natives, disease, starvation and treacherous waters. Crazed with greed and mad with power, Aguirre takes over the enterprise, slaughtering any that oppose him. Nature and Aguirre's own unquenchable thirst for glory ultimately render him insane, in charge of nothing but a raft of corpses and chattering monkeys. Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes (1973) was based on the real-life journals of a priest, Brother Gaspar de Carvajal (played in the film by Del Negro), who accompanied Pizarro on his ill-fated mission. ~ Karl Williams, All Movie Guide

"It seems that now, finally, recognition has arrived at Werner Herzog's feet, and for an inveterate, lifelong Herzogian (alright, since adolescence), his current presence in the cultural forebrain is something of a vindication." So begins an appreciation of one of cinema's great and true iconoclasts from Michael Atkinson. Full article >>

Special Features:

  • Commentary with Director Werner Herzog and Norman Hill

Werner Herzog - official site

Great Movies essay - Roger Ebert

You might also enjoy:
Herzog and Kinski teamed up again for a similarly themed battle of man versus nature

Heart of Glass
Hypnotic Herzog film, challenging and severely underrated

The Emerald Forest
Present-set Amazon drama also focuses on the tension between primitive and "developed" societies

GreenCine Member Reviews

Great Wits To Madness Near Allied by RJones3 September 5, 2008 - 3:38 PM PDT
0 out of 1 members found this review helpful
It is hard to know who was crazier, the would-be conquistador Don Lope de Aguirre or the director Werner Hertzog, who brought this historical dead end to the screen. Doubtless the former, since Hertzog won critical acclaim. Almost nothing is known about Aguirre. The few available documents suggest full-blown lunacy and early demise. A little lunacy, however, can only help the modern cinematic artist. In the absence of consistent critical standards, his/her fixed ideas have staying power, like a recurrent nightmare. Whatever you may think of this movie, you are not likely to forget it, and that makes it more or less memorable. A single tableau from the movie will suffice to make my point. To the left of the screen we have the chiseled Nordic features of Aguirre, sporting a suit of armor against the rigors of the jungle. He is played by Klaus Kinski, who was kept on the set only by threat of violence and whose remuneration ate up a third of the movie's budget. To the right of the screen is an Inca slave in native costume. He is played by a retarded street beggar that Herzog picked up in Cuzco. While Kinski strikes a heroic pose, the beggar struggles to play a lively tune on a set of wooden pipes. Does the pathos of the scene belong to the historic event, or to the movie that depicts it?

apocalypse then by rarcher February 12, 2006 - 11:08 AM PST
0 out of 3 members found this review helpful
i enjoyed the movie even though it did go really really really slow
i couldn't help wondering while watching this if copolla watched it before/while making apocalypse now
in some ways very similar

Heavy Handed Herzog by qirkyflix April 1, 2004 - 12:27 PM PST
8 out of 13 members found this review helpful
I'm a long time admirer of the work of Werner Herzog, so when I joined Greencine immediately started renting his films. Sadly, Aguirre just doesn't do it for me any more. When I saw it 15-20 years ago I thought it was magnificent and thought provoking and "meaningful". Now that I've seen a few more films, and helped shoot a few, this film seems much more heavy handed, slow-moving and ponderous than I recall. It's still an interesting film, and you have to admire the stamina and sheer lunacy that drove the actual shooting schedule. But the editing is much too leisurely and even for a fan it felt like a chore sitting through its mere 94 minutes.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 7.90)
580 Votes
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Moveline's 100 Best Foreign Films
This list was published in Moveline's July 1996 issue.
Village Voice's 100 Best Films of the 20th Century
When the Village Voice held its "First Annual Film Critics' Poll" they asked 50 or so film critics (like Molly Haskell, Jonathan Rosenbaum, and Andrew Sarris) to rank their top ten best films of the century. This is the result.

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