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Monday, Aug. 22, at 7:30 PM

Aguirre, the Wrath of God/Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes

Werner Herzog, Peru/West Germany, 95 min., German, Quechua & Spanish

In Werner Herzog’s hallucinatory historical epic “Aguirre, the Wrath of God,” Don Lope de Aguirre (Klaus Kinski), a ruthless Spanish conquistador, vies for power while part of an expedition in Peru to find El Dorado, the mythical seven cities of gold. Accompanied by his daughter, Flores (Cecilia Rivera), Aguirre faces off against his superior, Don Pedro de Ursua (Ruy Guerra), and grows increasingly volatile after seizing control of the group. As Aguirre presses deeper into the Amazonian jungle, he descends further into madness. The London Evening Standard’s Derek Malcolm writes: “If it is true that you have to be a bit of a madman to make movies, the German Werner Herzog qualifies as an exemplar. And so does the late Klaus Kinski, the chief conquistador in this epic account of a 1560s Spanish expedition to El Dorado. The two came to blows during the shooting, which ends spectacularly with Kinski’s delusional explorer drifting down the Amazon on a raft full of monkeys. This sequence alone would render the 1972 film a classic. But the whole movie merges landscapes and character with such force that, once seen, you never forget it.” For the backstory on the film’s infamously difficult shoot — arguably eclipsed in difficulty by a later Herzog-Kinski collaboration, “Fitzcarraldo” — see Herzog’s documentary “My Best Fiend.”

Intro and discussion by Brad Prager, professor of German and Film Studies at the University of Missouri-Columbia and author of “The Cinema of Werner Herzog: Aesthetic Ecstasy and Truth.”


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