No doubt had Claude Levi-Straus been born a film-maker, he would have had done in the form of Herzog. That's no small compliment. We so magnificently get carried away with each scene, wondering if the script follows life unfolding, twisting and adapting as these spectacular people and environment manifest or on the contrary, is the indomitable director who is casting spells and creating what we see.
The final Herzog/Kinski collaboration was another tale of madness, determination and colonialism that resulted in their most under-rated feature. Kinski plays a bandit turned slave trader who is manipulated into going to Africa to restart the slave trade after many countries have outlawed it finding himself at the mercy of a mad King once settled. Bold filmmaking and a riveting turn by Kinski.
My Top 10 vastly underrated quasi-adventure film with the barbarism of the slave trade as a backdrop but as this film comes to a ambiguous conclusion one could see the issue of slavery proceeding unabated via thru the mystic winds blowing off the unforgivable ocean.
An adaptation of a Bruce Chatwin novel, Cobra Verde had much potential but rarely rises among the level of minor Herzog. There are some superb set-pieces and compositions (most notably the final scene) but the film lacks pace and dynamism. Not helped either by familiar behind-the-scenes problems that also dogged Herzog on Fitzcarraldo. All in all though, not a bad send off for Kinski, who would die soon after.
Herzog's masterwork. Kinski at his most unhinged. Nature's full force. 3rd World in control. Beautiful, offbeat, yet delicate visual storytelling. A great character-driven story. Man, I loved this film. Oh... and the singer of the "nun's choir" is mesmerizing. Has charm and knows it. Fantastic. Final scene of the film: The. Best. Forget highly overrated Aguirre, THIS is the film that Herzog should be remembered for.
This must have been set around 1830's, but according to Wikipedia: "Although slavery is now abolished de jure in all countries, de facto practices akin to it continue today in many places throughout the world." The girl chorus at the end is a gem in itself... and well, Kinsky is just simply too much in himself!
How Werner Herzog pulled of his larger-than-life historical epic I cannot understand. The sheer willpower used to illustrate the incredibly complicated, richly absurd arena of the slave trade in its last years would have put most filmmakers in the grave. Klaus Kinski is yet again a box of dynamite, trudging through the picture with the ferocity of an enraged activist vying for our edification.
Herzog delivers a bizarre and entertaining spectacle. In the background, the horrors of slavery are convincingly depicted. I'm not sure why the rebels needed a white man to lead them, or what in Silva's limited backstory, qualified him to organize a fighting army other than his savage ferocity. The lead singer of the girl's chorus at the end has so much charisma and screen presence that she actually upstages Kinski.
This is commonly considered Herzog and Kinski's least good partnership together, and if so, neither of them has anything to be ashamed of. It's not a masterpiece like their best; the character of Cobra Verde is too frustratingly vague to pull off the arc completely. But it's rich in spectacle, and its view of human nature as inherently cutthroat (but also inherently conflicted) is a worthy addition to Herzog's canon.
The final Herzog/Kinski, at once the most pared-down and the most extreme. This may be because it seems to be a film made by Kinski himself, where a world of madness and suffering can only be made sense of from a mad and suffering viewpoint. Likewise, the threadbare and barren scenes showing elements of colonial life give way to opulent crowd scenes, where exuberance and death dance often joyfully together. 3.5*