Monday, February 28, 2011

Aguirre, The Wrath of God

There's something a bit odd about a movie where Spanish people speak German, but I guess the same can be said about any number of movies where people speak English when they shouldn't. Aguirre tells the story of a man who leads a group of explorers as they search for El Dorado in South America. Their mission is only supposed to last a week when they leave the main group, but Aguirre rebels against the chosen leader, believing greatness can sometimes only be found if certain orders are disobeyed, and elects a new leader, even declaring him the new king, and they continue looking for the city of gold. Of course they never find it, and the rest of the film consists of them all becoming increasingly desperate and deluded as they slowly get picked off by natives while their supplies dwindle to nothing. It's a pretty harsh movie, though there's a certain watchability to seeing the whole crew succumb to madness and starvation.

I've seen the name Werner Herzog come up a lot, and this being his first film I've seen, I have to say I'm fairly impressed. He obviously didn't have a very large budget to work with, given how the quality of the picture and the costumes definitely comes off a bit cheap. But he still makes the story work, and somehow pulled a really compelling and interesting story out of a bunch of guys riding a raft for an hour and a half. Watching Aguirre bully his compatriots into following him to their collective doom becomes very unnerving, and there's a constant noticeable trend to the feel of the atmosphere as things go from adventurous to worrying and then far, far worse. It's also an oddly funny movie too at times, notably with all the dialogue that pops up whenever a delirious person gets hit by an arrow from an unseen assailant in the jungle. A solid film that far outshines its limited production value.

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