Aguirre, The Wrath of God aka Der Zorn Gottes directed by Werner Herzog, with Klaus Kinski in the lead role
A different version of this note and thoughts on other books are available at:
- https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEVa4_CsRStSBBDo4uJWT8BSWtTTn0N1E and http://realini.blogspot.ro/
This is one of the best films ever made and it is included on the TIME Magazine List of Best 100 Movies
It was filmed in extreme circumstances and the director Werner Herzog gives some details in a documentary about His Dear Friend.
Klaus Kinski, who plays the lead role in Aguirre was a fascinating and disturbed man.
I will return to the subject later.
But Don Lope de Aguirre is also an adventurous man, with many psychological issues.
Klaus Kinski could have gone wild and perorate with emphatic gusto.
But he keeps everything under control, even when he does get worked up.
From the start we have a text that explains what we will se and what it is based on.
It is more or less this:
After the conquest of the Inca by the Spaniards, the Indians have invented the legend of
- El Dorado
It was supposed to be a land of gold.
An expedition set off from the Sierras of Peru.
The leader was Pizarro and they departed in late 1560.
Only one document was recovered and it is the diary of the monk Gaspar de Carvajal.
One important theme is religion, which was the main drive for many of the participants in the expedition, apart from gold.
The number of people is impressive and they took along about 200 slaves.
One of them complains and talks about another important subject of this masterpiece:
The ordeal that Natives suffered, the cruelty of the Spanish and the priests, the humiliating disaster suffered by a noble people.
Pizarro understands that they cannot find their way to El Dorado through the jungle.
He orders a smaller group to depart on rafts that will navigate the river and return in ten days to lead the rest to the Land of Gold.
Don Pedro de Ursua is the leader and Don Lope de Aguirre his second in command.
And de Ursua has his wife, Dona Inez and his daughter Flores on this dangerous expedition.
Things fall apart pretty soon, with one raft caught in a whirlwind and some Rapids.
Aguirre could not care less, but Don Pedro orders a halt and help to be sent to the ten men that are trapped.
By the next morning though, they are all dead, with the exception of the three that are missing.
Now the leader wants a burial with a service.
To prevent that, Aguirre shoots the canon and blows the raft and the corpses away.
A mutiny is in progress.
It has reminded me of Mutiny on the Bounty, with Don Pedro captured and kept in a cage.
There are attacks of the Indians and the Spanish kill and destroy their share of villages that they encounter.
There are some funny moments in what is otherwise a tragic account.
The proclamation through which they declare that the treasures they find will be theirs is one such preposterous scene.
Then the anointing of...An Emperor, no less.
He has twenty men that do not even respect him and yet he is an emperor.
Klaus Kinski acted as a mad man.
He even injured the extras that participated in the filming of Aguirre.
In the documentary about Kinski, one showed the scar he was left with, for all his life.
But then Aguirre declares at one point:
- I am The Wrath of God
- When I wish it, birds fall from the trees.
Klaus Kinski was the man to act, especially since he believed pretty much the same thing.