Francisco Manoel da Silva is a farmer in the Brazilian Sertão, which is suffering a drought. After having killed the boss of the mine he worked in because the boss wouldn’t pay his men, he travels around dressed as a bandit and is feared by all. One day he manages to prevent one of Don Octavio Coutinho’s slaves from escaping; Don Octavio immediately hires him to supervise the work on his immense plantation. But when Don Octavio discovers that Francisco has gotten his three daughters pregnant, he sends him to Africa to take slaves he needs to work his fields. In Africa, Francisco first succeeds in obtaining an enormous number of slaves from a king, but is later sentenced to death. He is freed by the king’s brother, who in return asks for Francisco’s help in organizing a revolt against the sovereign. Francisco seems to have control of the situation once again, until the new king, who had in the meantime appointed him viceroy, sends him a cargo of cripples just as Brazil is about to vote to abolish slavery. —Thessaloniki International Film Festival
One of the most influential filmmakers in New German Cinema and one of the most extreme personalities in film, Werner Herzog quickly gained recognition not only for creating some of the most fantastic narratives in the Film history, but for pushing himself and his crew to absurd and unprecedented lengths, again and again, in order to achieve the effects he demanded. Born Werner Stipetic in Munich on September 5, 1942, Herzog came of age in Sachrang, Bavaria, amid extreme poverty and destitution. After Herzog turned seventeen, a German film producer optioned one of his screenplays, then promptly destroyed the contract when he discovered the author’s age. Circa 1962, 20-year-old Herzog enrolled in the University of Munich as a history and literature student, and produced his first motion picture, the twelve minute Herakles, his second short Game in the Sand, and his third, the pacifist tract The Unprecedented Defense of Fortress Deutschkreuz.In 1963, he established his own production… read more
Herzog's best-ever fiction film is also his best documentary, which is perhaps why he has been at pains to separate the two ever since. Kinski is like a stony thing, a relic of the land and history; this is the film where we most clearly see why Herzog loved Kinski so much, and how he did: from a certain distance. With distance comes rapture, always.
The first half of the film is stunning, and promises to be the best of the Herzog/Kinski films, but then it switches locations to Africa and kind of falls apart. Kinski fades into the background and we're treated to some visually sumptuous albeit fluffy scenes of Africans dancing. Pretty, yes, but not much in the way of plot. The scenes of decrepit mansions in Brazil's countryside are far more striking.