The legend of El Dorado, a land rich in gold tempts Gonzalo Pizarro to lead an expedition beyond the Andes in 1560. Forced to halt, two men are sent downriver with a patrol. When their rafts are damaged, one decides to return on the camp, while Aguirre leads a mutiny and takes charge of the patrol.
More Werner Herzog! Our retrospective moves beyond Herzog’s documentaries to his Ecstatic Fictions. The most famous of his extreme visions, Aguirre is a haunting masterwork on human ambition, forged in harsh conditions and forever engraving the madness of star Klaus Kinski into the pantheon.
Herzog drags a ridiculous amount of people on rickety log rafts through raging rivers and doesn't kill anyone this time (just about). If there was ever any proof that artists write themselves into their characters, this is it. Insanity, for sure, but the results are startling. More modern filmmakers need to take risks like this.
You will not find a more penetrating exploration of greed and desire. Herzog systematically peels the armor of civilization away from the Spanish conquest of South America until nothing is left but the naked underbelly of power. Kinski is riveting. There is an absence of indigenous (women's) voices. The two female characters are led through vines, swamps and rapids on sedan chairs, rarely uttering a word.
Gran película que mantiene un diálogo intertextual con muchas crónicas de indias. Es interesante notar la semejanza con la historia de Cabeza de Vaca, pero como resalta la magnificencia de su fracaso con esa toma final. Ambas son historias sobre el fracaso y es evidente que el de esta historia es monumental, distinto al de Álvar Núñez, que al ser rescatado presume ser un vencedor. Aquí el gran traidor no es un héroe.
Second time of watching. Even better. Now I see this film as a documentary involving a cast 'going native' in their roles during shooting on location, as well as the normal narrative. Whatever this is, it's great. I can't help but see Aguirre as a metaphor for Hitler, and the rest as an idle and naive Germany watches the Nazis drag them to the promised land. I'm sure Coppola was inspired by Herzog for Apocalypse Now.
The music sets the tone for everything. Aguirre's descent into madness is riveting—a man who is indifferent to his own demise. This role was made for Klaus Kinski. It's truly incredible to consider what Herzog put the cast and crew through to make this film. By the end, the journey feels just as taxing on the audience.
That's "history": A bunch of overgrown boys playing make-believe with roles and rules and stories. And guns. And the occasional great line ("That man is a head taller than me... That might change"). Worked out well that the low production value made it seem like even more of a child's game. And Kliski's clearly a crazy motherfucker, well-suited to drive the point home. Sadly, not irrelevant (see, e.g., 'Murica). 3.5