Warning: Explicit Language
Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes
Maybe it was an unconscious backlash to my previous delightful movie experience or maybe it was just residual curiousity from a documentary that I saw on IFC several years ago, but while LSB was out schmoozing with ambassadors and the Special Representative to North Korea, I took the opportunity to rent Aguirre: The Wrath of God.
First, some background. I've always been interested in the combative, symbiotic, love/hate relationship between the German director Werner Herzog and Klaus Kinski, his nemisis and frequent star of many of his earlier films. I guess that makes me kind of weird, but perhaps this quote will explain my fascination:
Herzog is a miserable, hateful, malevolent, avaricious, money-hungry, nasty, sadistic, treacherous, cowardly creep...he should be thrown alive to the crocodiles! An anaconda should strangle him slowly! A poisonous spider should sting him and paralyze his lungs! The most venomous serpent should bite him and make his brain explode! No panther claws should rip open his throat--that would be much too good for him! Huge red ants should piss into his lying eyes and gobble up his balls and his guts! He should catch the plague! Syphilis! Yellow fever! Leprosy! It's no use; the more I wish him the most gruesome deaths, the more he haunts me.
- Klaus Kinski (on Werner Herzog)
Aguirre was made by Germans, with mostly German actors, about Spanish conquistadors in 16th Century Peru. It follows the story of Aguirre, who leads a expedition up a river in order to find El Dorado and goes increasingly insane in the process. Think Heart of Darkness in the context of Spanish exploitation of South America, in German (with English subtitles). It begins with a bunch of men carrying a cannon over a mountain and ends with loads of hyper little monkeys on a raft. In the middle, people are hit with arrows, decapitated by other (German) Spaniards, eaten by indigenous Peruvians, and avoid starvation by eating the algae growing on the bottom of their raft. If that doesn't interest you enough to go out and rent it, perhaps this trailer or following quotes from the film will:
"That man is a head taller than me. That may change..."
- Aguirre (prior to the above-mentioned beheading)
"Whoever even thinks about deserting will be cut into 198 pieces
and then trampled upon until you can paint the walls with him"
- Aguirre (in an effort to inspire his men)
"If I, Aguirre, want the birds to drop dead from the trees...
the birds will drop dead from the trees."
- Aguirre (just prior to proclaiming himself "The Wrath of God")
Yeah, the movie was pretty awesome.