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Aguirre, The Wrath of God

our rating: 5.0
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avg. user rating: 4.4
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Aguirre, The Wrath of God Review

90 minutes, West Germany (1972), PG

Suitably insane collaboration between writer-director-producer Werner Herzog and his on-off leading man Klaus Kinski, who stars as a Spanish conquistador on a ruthless, fruitless hunt for El Dorado

Aguirre, The Wrath of God Herzog's masterpiece has his old sparring partner Kinski as the crazed conquistador Don Lope de Aguirre embarking on a doomed attempt to discover the legendary city of El Dorado. Accompanied by his daughter, a Spanish nobleman and his wife, a monk and a troop of men, Aguirre heads down-river towards an inexorable fate.

Kinski brings his intense muscularity and a sense of dangerous madness to his role of the man who mistakes his own dementia for a kind of divine power. His deranged, super-charged performance gives the sense that he was an actor designed for silent cinema.

Using camera work that is by turns amateurish and breathtaking, Herzog conjures up a magical story of human folly played out against the vastness of nature. He and Kinski would return to similar territory with ever-decreasing success in Fitzcarraldo and Cobra Verde.

This is an astonishing, deceptively simple, pocket-sized epic whose influence, in terms of both style and narrative, is seen in films as diverse as Apocalypse Now, The Mission, Predator and The Blair Witch Project.

Verdict
A 28-year-old charlatan filmmaker and his fully-fledged lunatic star go native with a paltry budget, one stolen 35mm camera and 400 Indians and emerge with one of cinema's great, hallucinatory masterworks.

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