Aguirre, the Wrath of God 3.0 stars

Aguirre, the Wrath of God movie poster

Werner Herzog's Radical Left slanting of an old-fashioned Lost Patrol adventure yarn. The anti-imperialist, anti-militarist storyline concerns a splinter group of Pizarro's conquistadors searching in vain for El Dorado and mown down a man at a time by invisible Peruvian cannibals. What gives this inevitable, countdown plot (18 dead, 6 to go) its distinction is the tone of derision: the stupid Spaniards, examining a poison dart in the neck of a fallen comrade, marvel, "Look how short the arrow is. Perhaps they're dwarfs." The only member of the cast who appears to be more than a stick figure or a straw man is the odd, anarchic, undirectable Klaus Kinski, playing a lunatic Master Racist with operatically anguished eyes and sneeringly sensual lips. A campy actor, Kinski moves through the picture sideways, tilting backward like Frankenstein's monster, dragging one limb or the other as if he suffers from paralysis alternately on one side of his body and then the other. This is a movie steeped in its physical properties: the oppressive, primeval terrain, the Spaniards' scuffed-up armor and their rough-hewn rafts. An epic subject in the hands of a minutiae director, this paceless, disjointed, and frequently beautiful movie has something of the quality of loosely strung beads. 1972.

Duncan Shepherd

This movie is not currently in theaters.

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