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on 9 December 2017
The copy I received is clearly not genuine. It is a very poor quality copy spoken in German over the original English, and with English subtitles. I was looking forward to watching this with my family and after a few minutes we realised we'd been sold a pirated copy.
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on 11 August 2017
Not a true story. So just fiction. If you take this on board, it is quite absorbing.
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on 5 August 2008
I first saw Aguirre: Wrath of God in August 2005. I had heard a lot of good things about it and I was looking forward to watching it as I had an interest in that period of history. I must admit that at first I was disappointed, and after having watched the film I left it on the shelf until earlier this year when I decided to give it another go.
The second time round I enjoyed it a lot more, but it should be noted that this film is certainly not for everyone.

The plot is based very loosely on the Francisco Orellana's journey down the Amazon River in the 1540s. In this version of the tale Gonzalo Pizzaro's expedition to find El Dorado, the city of gold, ends in disaster. The conquistadors have spent many fruitless weeks pushing cannons and heavy equipment through deep, dark and impenetrable rainforest with nothing to show for their troubles. Before the expedition heads home Pizzaro decides to take one last gamble. He orders Pedro de Ursua to take a small band of explorers further down the amazon basin on water rafts. His second in command is Don Lope de Aguirre, a shifty and aggressive character who haunts the others in the background, constantly looming over them like a beast. It isn't long before Aguirre begins to show his true colours. He hijacks the expedition and orders the conquistadors to push on and on until they find and plunder El Dorado. Blinded by his lust for gold, and growing increasingly paranoid and insane, he threatens to lead his men to destruction.

The plot seems very simplistic but it is often rich in symbolism, with some interesting themes on delusion, greed and megalomania. At other times you can just marvel at the terrific looking rainforest, or gawp at some of the more surreal scenes.

The film rests almost entirely on the shoulders of Klaus Kinski (Aguirre) and the director, Werner Herzog. The background of the film is as legendary as the film itself, and it might even have been more exciting to glimpse what was going on behind the camera, rather than what was going on in front. Klaus Kinski was almost as mad as the character he was portraying, and there were rumours he even shot the cameraman after a heated argument, amongst other things. It is this intense maddness that gives Aguirre much of its strength. Kinski is a strong screen presence, and in the latter half of the film he could easily convince the viewer that he was genuinely insane. The other actors come up a little short beside Kinski. Some are ok, while others seem to be sleepwalking through their roles. I wasn't too surprised when I heard that Herzog had simply picked up some cast members randomly off the streets, as in most cases it does show. Aguirre's daughter for instance was played by a girl that Herzog had seen at a local school.

I think the biggest obstacle for the some people's enjoyment of the film is the extremely slow and plodding pace. Several drawn out scenes contain nothing more than the conquistadors sitting on the raft with nothing to do or say. For the majority of the film nothing terribly exciting takes place. Instead the film decides to show the characters long, painful slide into insanity. If you've come here expecting some Hollywood style action scenes then you shouldn't bother. There's virtually no action at all in the film.

Herzog's directing stretches from the sublime (the first scenes and the ending) to being amateurish (the scene where Inez's chair slips into the swamp and you can see his hand stretching behind the camera to hold it up). Herzog should also be thankful for Florian Fricke's Popul Vuh for providing the atmospheric and other worldly music. Aguirre simply wouldn't be the same experience without its soundtrack.

The DVD is very poor. The picture quality makes it look as if it's straight off a 20 year old video cassette. The sound is often muffled, but that might also be the film's original sound FX. There's also a few errors in the subtitles, while some of the special features mentioned on the back of the box (such as a Theatrical trailer) don't even appear on the DVD.

This film is a must watch for serious film buffs. But no doubt the film will leave audiences divided. Some will see it as a masterpiece, others will say its the most boring film they have ever seen. I didn't enjoy the film when I first saw it, but I'm glad I gave it another chance. I still don't think the film is a masterpiece, but I do think it deserves to be watched at least once.

DVD Features:

Region: 0 (will work on all DVD players)
Language: German with English subtitles
Running time: 95 minutes
Special Features: Kinski and Herzog Filmography.
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on 22 May 2006
This film is now commonly viewed as Werner Herzog's international breakthrough. Which unfortunately is another myth that has sprung up around the film. Lauded and adored by critics and academia perhaps, the general cinema going public were and still remain unaware of Herzog's work. But it certainly is a creative breakthrough and the reasons for this, is that by Herzog standards this is a very conventional piece of story-telling. It is replete with action, conspiracy, adventure and danger and from a narrative perspective owes a good deal of debt to classic Hollywood adventure films. Where it differs is in Herzog's own unique lexicon of film language, his use of camera, editing and soundtrack combine to give the film a documentary feel. This often works in an opposite way in Herzog's cinema as well, with his documentaries having the heightened, fantastical lucidity of a fictional narrative. The film also highlighted to a wider audience Herzog's propensity to take risks and the efforts he goes to in order to achieve the `ecstatic truth' he has sought throughout his career. In AGUIRRE this is best represented by the breathtaking opening sequence.

This film also establishes the twin themes that have been present throughout Herzog's work since, that of colonialist expansion and the effect of western civilisation on the African continent and the exploration of dreams. In this case the dreams of AGUIRRE are negative and fuelled by a slowly burgeoning insanity. And a major delight of this film is KLAUS KINSKI'S towering performance of scheming malevolence. Rarely has an actor dominated a film quite as much. Herzog also painstakingly presents nature as harsh, unforgiving and beyond the mere comprehension of a man, a theme he still explores successfully to this day as his recent film GRIZZLY MAN illustrates. If one can ignore the mythical tales of hardship and insanity that dog this film, it is an incredible experience that makes a fine companion piece to both Conrad's HEART OF DARKNESS and Herzog's own FITZCARRALDO.

Anchor Bay's DVD is unfortunately devoid of the type of extras we have become used to from the company. But we should be glad that they have taken of the task of re-mastering Herzog's films and bringing them to the attention of the DVD generation of film collectors. The commentary track is good value for money, Herzog remains as always fascinating listening.
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on 5 February 2006
There's not doubt that Werner Herzog is an extreme romantic, a voluptuous temper who has told that his films come from painful experiences and a man arranged to risk his life to arrive to the limits of that he plans to capture with his camera. His films must always have a strong and profound link with " reality " and this is the reason that he doesn't like to work inside the film industry and great part of his movies are documentaries or fictions where he uses documentary techniques. He's almost all has been told about him: an adventurer, a lucid dreamer, an anthropologist interested in living cultures, an antiracionalist philosopher and a wanderer filmmaker. The characters of his films are usually outsiders, visionaries, quixotesc adventurers and megalomaniacs conquerors as it's the case " Aguirre, Zorn des Gottes ".

Inspired in the historical character of Lope de Aguirre, the movie narrates the story of a band of spanish soldiers led by the irate Aguirre who go up to the Amazon jungle in quest for ElDorado, the mythic city of gold. But soon heat; hunger; the despair and the gradual suspicion that they're looking for a ghost; the latent menace of the invisible natives, hidden in the jungle, who attacks them with poisined arrows; internal strugles and the delyriums of greatness of Aguirre ( Klaus Kinski ) turns the expedition into a trip ruled by madness, brutality and violent deaths. Shot partially in a documentary style in the Peruvian jungle, the greatest achievement of this mesmerizing film it's its hallucinated climax: Herzog interrupts the narration in an atmosphere of irrationality and brutal deaths whith Aguirre surrounded by the dead bodies of his daughter and soldiers on a rudimentary raft in the middle of a turbulent river while the camera moves drawing fast circles around them.
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on 20 March 2005
Aguirre, the Wrath of God, is Herzog's ultimate jungle adventure, continuing on from the trancelike and hypnotic Fata Morgana and Signs of Life (which aren't necessarily jungle films, but do have a similar approach to the strange and the exotic), whilst simultaneously prefiguring the more traditional narratives of Fitzcaralldo and Cobra Verde. It also has certain similarities to Chris Marker's excellent film Sans Soliel, with the combination of mystical realism and otherworldly forces, alongside an almost documentary approach to the art of filmmaking. Like Marker's film, Herzog takes the viewer on a journey, not only into the Peruvian jungle, but also back in time, to the days of the Spanish conquistadors, and deep into the heart of darkness. He introduces us to a collection of characters that will be our guide throughout the film, but, despite this, we're never really allowed to learn anything about them. To Herzog, their personalities are unimportant... to him, the film is about something deeper; it's about greed, it's about brutality, it's about obsession, and ultimately, it's about the corruption of the human soul.
Right from the start we are captivated by the haunting and hypnotic mood that the filmmaker creates; with the film beginning on a close-up-detail of an enormous mountain peak, partially shrouded by mist. The evocative music of Popol Vuh then drifts in as our eyes focus on a small band of adventurers and their guides making their way down the side of the gigantic, monolithic rock... disappearing beyond the horizon, only to reappear on the other side. Here, as Herzog establishes the notion of nature as a symbolic obstacle or uncontrollable force, he also sets up a sense of eventual foreshadowing of that climactic image and the theme of man against nature. To reinforce these notions, Herzog makes his film as episodic as can be, with little explanation into events and little to drive the characters besides the wild-eyed obsession and ferocity of Aguirre himself. As with Fitzcaralldo and Cobra Verde, the film is driven by its central character - as opposed to being driven by plot - which works exceptionally well with Herzog's approach of stylised-documentary-drama, and of course, works even greater when personified by the manic Klaus Kinski. Here, Kinski's task is to instil Aguirre with an animal force and psychotic obsession... to push this band of weary soldiers down the river, with the promise of the ultimate reward in the shape of the city of gold.
For me, this is possibly Kinski's greatest performance (the emotional flip-side to his pained and sensitive turn in Herzog's other great film, Woyzeck), as he stalks the tiny raft - which becomes our main location - like a caged tiger, alternating between screaming, ferocious rants and moments of quiet contemplation that will eventually lead to a implied sense of complete self-destruction. Herzog's camera has an intruding intimacy about it that makes it impossible to imagine a film-crew actually standing around capturing this. It feels so real... like nothing has been staged. It also makes the drama all the more interesting, as characters die or break down, whilst Kinski just continues to scowl and grown through furrowed brow and clenched teeth... descending into madness with his eyes completely vacant. As the film moves towards it's inevitable climax, Herzog's direction becomes more and more surreal... like he's capturing some kind of fevered dream, as boundaries between fantasy and reality, truth and fiction, man and nature, all start breaking down. Throughout these closing sequences, Herzog offers up a number of images that define the style of Aguirre... whilst also lingering in our sub-conscious for months on end.
These images include a boat resting atop an enormous tree, a decapitated head that continues it's count from one to ten, a woman wandering into the jungle never to be seen again, and the butterflies that flutter and perch on the shoulders of the slave Okello, moments before he is shot through the heart with an arrow. Much of the violence of Aguirre is surreal, capturing that same fever dream ideology and happening at a point when the characters are at their most removed from reality. It also shows Herzog's talent in creating scenes of simplistic beauty from the most unexpected sources... tying in with the whole "shot-on-the-run" simplicity of the editing and cinematography, with the camera constantly roving from person to person, finding a composed moment of tranquilly before curiously pushing on. Unlike the work of his contemporaries (Fassbinder, Wenders, etc) Herzog is able to captivate his audience, not simply through narrative, but through the creation of a dense, dreamlike and hypnotic atmosphere and a character of immense, obsessive proportions. Aguirre, along with The Enigma of Kasper Hauser, is probably his ultimate masterpiece, a film that is constantly changing from one extreme to another, drawing you in, then pushing you away, making you want to go back and experience more and more of this landmark adventure.
For me, Aguirre, the Wrath of God is a film of monumental proportions... climaxing with a final shot that stands as one of the most breathtaking final images in European cinema, with that downward spiral managing to embody both the lunacy and obsession of the filmmakers and the fate of the ruined Aguirre. It is as much a testament to Kinski's brilliance, as it is to Herzog's, making this film (and the whole of the Herzog/Kinski box-set) an integral purchase.
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on 11 July 2003
i first saw this film at the tender age of 19 after getting into Herzog from watching his version of Nosferatu. what initially shocked me was the fact that in 90 mins nothing happened throughout the whole film apart from the odd close up of rapids and some dummies getting blown up on a raft by a cannon ball. What also seemed strange was that although nothing happened it still seemed too short at 90 mins and it felt that the film had been bastardised somewhat giving it a disjointed feel.
I left it on the shelf for some years and decided to watch it again. This time i was hypnotised by its brilliance. The music by Popul Vuh, the protean performance from Kinski the lack of character builing and plot all merged together and became organic. Why should we care about plot, most of our politicians dont have any so why should a film made by a madman about men going mad have one. If your stuck on the amazon in the 16th century with a bunch of blokes,horses and dysentary and someone makes a film of it then this is what you will get.
This film is like the opposite of fine wine.Where as the wine gets better as it gets older..this film gets better as you get older
A classic..
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on 11 February 2007
This is a film probably unlike anything you will have seen before (unless you are a Werner Herzog fan, in which case you will have seen it already). From the opening shot of a precipitous mountainside down which a small army of Spanish conquistadores are making their slow and perilous descent into the waiting jungle, this is a film about man at war both with himself and his environment.

The film deals with a group of 17th century conquistadores in South America who are searching for the fabled El Dorado, the legendary City of Gold, which of course, does not exist. After crossing the Andes they descend into the waiting jungle (which is where we come in). Needless to say, untold wealth does not await them, merely madness, disease and death. As their situation goes from bad to worse, they rapidly turn on one another, venting their frustrations in a series of violent outbursts, both verbal and physical.

Our main protagonist throughout the film is the titular Aguirre, played with riveting conviction by Klaus Kinski. It is true to say that Herzog and Kinski had something of a love hate relationship (some would describe it more as hate hate), but there is no denying that together they did some of their best work (think Fitzcaraldo, Nosferatu et al) and this one is no exception. Kinski's Aguirre is obviously unstable right from the start, with designs of his own, so when the opportunity for power presents itself he grabs it with both hands, leading himself and his compatriots to their doom. Aguirre's delusions gradually become grander and grander, his ultimate vision that of the entire continent under his godlike rule, but his true power is merely that of a man, small and ultimately insignificant. As the others die one by one, either at the hands of violent natives or the machinations of Aguirre, his delusional empire is reduced to a small raft floating downriver, his subjects nothing more than monkeys.

Right from the start, Herzog sucks us in with visions of surreal beauty as the conquistadors slog their way through the jungle, and then we are along for the ride, as the lines between fantasy and reality blur and merge, and Aguirre descends into his own personnel heart of darkness. Utterly riveting.
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on 13 August 2003
This movie not only signalled the collaboration of Herzog/Kinski for years to come ( eg Nosferatu, Cobra Verde ) but it is a trully masterpiece. The scenery is breathtaking, the score by Popl Vuh hypnotic and the dialogue sharp and tense. The story refers to a real spanish conquestador ( Aguirre Lopez) who separated himself with some others from teh Spanish Crown via mutiny and desceneted down the amazon river in search of El Dorado. Kinski is outstanding as the mad villain with dillusions of grandure and world domination and everyone around him seem unsignificant including the flying arrows by cannibals that destroy his company of men. Great music, worth to own , dont miss the soundtrack too.
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on 14 December 2007
This film is always likened to 'Apocalypse Now' and Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness'. However it is unfortunately not as good as either.

Don't get me wrong it is still very good, a lot better than average, it just has always seemed to me that people treat the 'making of' stories as though they were at all a part of the film. Yes filming in the amazon was a fantastic feat and Kinski caused quite a bit of furore on set, however the obstacles encountered in production do not judge how good a film is ('Plan 9 From Outer Space' was plagued by porblems as well remember, and that isn't too fantastic is it?). The narrative really has little going on outside of them travelling down a river with, unlike 'Heart of Darkness', no real or satisfying ending or purpose.

It's worth watching though for Kinskis performance and for you to marvel at their surroundings and think 'wow, they really did this?' or if you are a fan of Herzog's other (and in my opinion better) films Fitzcarraldo and stroszek.
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