Aguirre, Wrath of God – Movie reviewHerzog's riveting Brechtian epic about a catastrophic expedition across the Andes and down the Amazon in 1560 is arguably his best work and is being rereleased in cinemas and shown in a BFI Southbank retrospective. First released in 1972, it brought together for the first time two of the wildest, most explosive talents in world cinema, Herzog himself and Klaus Kinski, who plays Aguirre, a paranoid, power-crazed Spanish conquistador. Magnificently shot by Thomas Mauch under appalling conditions, it begins and ends with stunning images. The first is a breathtaking five-minute sequence of a vast procession of soldiers, priests and well-dressed ladies winding up and down a precipitous Peruvian valley. The second, a metaphor for a civilisation gone mad or a colonial impulse gone lunatically astray, focuses on the crazed Aguirre strutting around a drifting raft with no one to listen to his grandiose ravings except the hundreds of monkeys that chatter around him.
by Philip French