Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Aguirre, the Wrath of God.

Werner Herzog is the most interesting man in the world.

Take the story of this movie. The shoot was difficult, partly due to his lead actor, Klaus Kinski, being prone to fits of rage and being impossible to work with. So, in order to finish the project, he threatened murder-suicide, just to get a bit of cooperation. So he finished the film, using a stolen camera.

Being, the most interesting man in the world, he then decided to cast Kinski in several more movies, because that's the interesting thing to do.

So, of course, I had to watch this movie. As one might expect, it's pretty interesting.

The film is about a Spanish expedition into the new world. Being from civilization, they figure they can kick ass and strike a fear of god into the native population. On the expedition, are a number of characters, including crazy Klaus Kinski, who wants to be in control of the expedition. Kinski eventually bests the proper leadership of the expedition when he wants to go back home. He rules with violence and an iron fist, with a big fat guy becoming the official leader of the expedition. Of course, it all goes quite badly.

This is the most uncomfortable film I've ever watched, and that's something of a compliment. It's filled with reaction shots and the camera is often positioned - especially during scenes with Kinski - in a very uneasy way. It's subtle, and difficult to describe, but anxiety seeps from every frame.

In that sense, it's likely the most faithful representation of a failed expedition there can be. It's not excitement and explosions and all those other fantastic things, just a sense of unease as everyone knows this mission is going to crap but is too afraid to say anything.

It befits the most interesting man in the world that the movie itself is very interesting. It's not for everyone, perhaps, but I found myself intensely curious where he was going with this, and then fascinated by the whole descent into madness story. I don't know if this was the start of the whole jungle is insanity idea, which Apocalypse Now used to great effect as well, but it's a pretty good idea all around. It is a bit odd, and can be off putting, but it manages to be a little bit amazing.

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