Aguirre, the Wrath of God (Herzog, 1972)
I had the chance to see this on the big screen last night. This is my third time through this great movie and I still find myself flustered by the chaos at hand every time. This is the quintessential movie about delusions of grandeur. The role of Aguirre was designed for Klaus Kinski and he is amazing in it. I don’t think there is another actor alive who is strange enough, and who possesses the right kind of attitude to have pulled this off. This time through, what I noticed for the first time was the chaotic actions of the rest of the crew. No one spews hilarious non-sensical dialogue like Aguirre, but everyone’s actions still express an extreme amount disorder. In fact, the audience around me starting to become so uncomfortable with watching these men break down, they starting laughing at nearly everything, even scenes not meant to be humorous.
What I find to be most enjoyable about the film is the way the river these men travel down presents both an intense and a calming tone. In fact, while there is still some sanity in this group of men, the river is wild and dangerous. As the film continues and everyone begins losing it, the river is mostly calm, making for an interesting contrast. Even the latter Indian attacks are almost silent and strangely poetic. Additionally, the cinematography and soundtrack (though much more sparingly used than I remembered) are also excellent. This is definitely one of Herzog’s best. 9.25/10