Aguirre: The Wrath of God
Dir. Werner Herzog. 1972. N/R. 100mins. In Germans with subtitles. Klaus Kinski, Helena Rojo, Del Negro, Ruy Guerra.
From the opening shot, in which an expedition of Spanish conquistadors looks like insects making their way down a mountain path, to the last image, a spiralling shot around a madman on a raft, Aguirre is one of the greatest examinations of monomaniacal obsession ever put on film. Kinski gives one of his most frightening, exhausting performances (even scarier than his turn as a vampire in Herzog’s Nosferatu) as Aguirre, a 16th-century Spanish conquistador in Peru searching for the fabled City of Gold. The journey is a rapid descent into complete madness. Herzog holds us captive to his bleak world view, but it is a captivity we highly recommend. (Opens Fri; Music Box Theatre.)—Hank Sartin