Released in 1972, ‘Aguirre, the Wrath of God’ was the first of five collaborations between director Werner Herzog and star Klaus Kinski.
At the end of 1560, embarking on a fools errand, a group of Spanish explorers go to Peru in search of El Dorado. Commanded by Don Pedro de Ursua, the voyage is destined for failure with Don Lupe de Aguirre (Kinski) plotting to have Ursua removed from power so he can take over the expedition. In the quest for power, all are expendable to him.
Kinski blurs the line with a performance that, retrospectively, mirrored his own personality. Herzog made a documentary in 1999, which described how Kinski would threaten crew members and often burst into irrational fits of rage, lasting hours. Back in January, 22 years after his death, Kinski’s daughters detailed a disturbing list of abuse by him that lasted for several years.
The film is a masterpiece and Herzog is the reason for that. The stark, objective imagery, and the careful restraint in which the story unfolds, make for powerful viewing. Since its original release, ‘Aguirre...’ has been considered one of the greatest films ever made.
The film is being shown at Queen’s Film Theatre from June 7 to 12.