Great Movies:aguirre,the Wrath Of God

Aguirre,the Wrath of God’ is a 1972 West German film directed by Werner Herzog centered on the historical figure of Lope de Aguirre,a Spanish conquistador nicknamed ‘El Loco’(the madman)who became famous for his role in a 1561 expedition down the Amazon in search for the mythical El Dorado,where he started as a minor official,but then he organized a mutiny and took control of the expedition,rebelling against king Phillip II of Spain.The real Lope de Aguirre was eventually captured and killed by Spanish authorities in Venezuela,while the movie character,whose role was played by Klaus
Kinski,had a different fate,as those curious to watch the movie will discover. There’s one thing which is obvious from the very beginning:historical accuracy was not a priority for Werner Herzog,the director of the movie.The apparition of the character of Gonzalo Pizarro in a movie whose action starts at the end of 1560,while in fact the real Pizarro died in 1548,indicates that fiction and allegory are the key elements of the movie,and not the historical facts.In the movie,Pizarro decides to send a large group of people in a search mission for a few days to see if the expedition has any chances of success.The group is led by Pedro de Ursua,and Lope de Aguirre is one of his assistants;after several days of sailing on a few rafts down the Amazon,Ursua decides that it’s useless to continue and the group made up of Spanish conquistadors and soldiers,native slaves,plus Ursua’s wife,Aguirre’s daughter and the monk Gaspar de Carvajal,which makes the chronicle of the expedition,has to go back to the main group.It is at this point that Aguirre and his men,controlled by the lust for huge quantities of gold,which is supposed to be found in El Dorado,rebel and take Ursua prisoner,and decide to continue the search for El Dorado. From this moment,there’s no turning back;Aguirre decides to proclaim the lazy,fat nobleman Don Fernando de Guzman king of the new territories they discover in their expedition,thus no longer recognizing the authority of the Spanish monarch,but in fact Aguirre is the true ruler,controlling everyone on the raft and oppressing all those who try to oppose him.All these dramatic events take place in the lush and at the same intimidating background of the Peruvian rain forest while the group,which is crowded on a single big raft,keeps on advancing towards the much promised,but illusory splendours and riches of El Dorado. The mighty river and the dense forests surrounding it create a spectacular and at the same time scary imagery where danger is everywhere,and the moments of silence are

some of the most terrifying in the movie,because they announce imminent danger coming from the poisonous arrows of the native tribes and eventually the silence is interrupted by the confrontations between the two sides;on the hand the Indians who use their primitive tools to try and kill their enemies,and on the other hand the mighty and cruel Spaniards with their firearms who are ready to exterminate all the savages they encounter. As the expedition advances further and further into the Amazonian rain forest,the madness and cruelty of Aguirre,which turned him into a true antihero in literature and cinema,become more and more relevant.Nothing can stop him from reaching his ambitious dream,not even the increasing deaths of those surrounding him,from the arrows of the Indians and then from starvation and disease.In fact,he reaches the point where he is no longer interested in the gold of El Dorado,he only wants to achieve glory and become a legendary figure;blinded by his own ambition,he doesn’t realize that he’s the one responsible for the disaster of his expedition.His madness reaches the climax at the end of the movie when he says ‘I am the wrath of God’,when in fact he’s only surrounded by the bodies of those he led towards their demise. ‘Aguirre,the Wrath of God’ also has a remarkable soundtrack,created by progressive/krautrock German band Popol Vuh,which increases the sensation of mystery and permanent danger caused by the mighty Amazon and the rain forest through its ‘hypnotic’ music.There are several interesting characters which have secondary roles,such as an Indian slave who plays traditional Peruvian music or a black slave who is very useful to the conquistadors when they want to frighten the natives who have never seen a black person before.It also depicts the cruelty of the church,represented by brother Carvajal,who converts the savages to Christianity by force and intimidation. All these aspects and many other interesting scenes turned the fictionalized story of Aguirre’s search for the ever promising,and yet always elusive El Dorado into a cult movie and demonstrated that great movies can be made even with low budget and without special effects;it’s a movie that definitely fascinates its viewers and makes them reflect on many aspects of human nature and it deserves to be considered a true masterpiece. Check out these great movie review from Abhijit Bangal,one of my best EC friends: http://expertscolumn.com/content/milenge-milenge-long-awaited-movie http://expertscolumn.com/content/review-red-alert-war-within http://expertscolumn.com/content/review-shawshank-redemption-1994


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