Aguirre, The Wrath of God
I was surprised to see that it was written and directed by
Werner Herzog. It was in German. I gave myself an inner 'high-five' and continued making small talk with the late-arriving patrons. Eventually, all neon and artificial lights were turned off, and the film began.
The script was quietly comedic, the editing was invisible, and the cinematography was 'in-your face'. In fact, the film won awards at two different festivals for its genius of cinematography. The film began with a caravan of Spanish treasure-seeking soldiers/slaves/noblemen hiking down a mountain out of the clouds. There were no film tricks, and no light loads borne by any of the cast. I felt like Herzog really captured reality for the traveling party. There were no dramatic pauses, no focus on the individual. There were long shots, long sequences of the group getting through mud, or just floating slowing down the river on a raft. He was not afraid to let the camera run. It caused such tension throughout the film.
The story was of a mutinous commanding officer, whose only desire was to reach the city of El Dorado. The story was told from the journal of the catholic priest who was aboard the convoy. I must admit, the first 35 minutes of so of the film are a blur for me, because the lady with the dreadlocks sitting next to me let her child abuse me as if I were a jungle gym. It all adds to the atmosphere. The film never left you with a happy, uplifting sort of feeling, but it did drag feelings and echoes of the old 'human nature' question out. I don't suppose there was any intended moral for Herzog, I felt like he was trying to present the film to be as true to reality as possible...and I feel like he succeeded. I did not walk out of the Muse at 11:45pm feeling as if I had been in another world for over the hour and a half I spent there, I felt as if i had experienced a little piece of history. There were no cross cuts to sub-plot among sub-plot, or jumps from the present to the past or distant future. All the action in the film was semi-continuous, even as sometimes week seem to slip by without our noticing. The ending was great. It left the deliriously greedy commanding officer on the raft, with monkeys everywhere, and his ranks dead from hunger and indians. He stood, as delirious as he ever was, expecting to overcome the world.
I don't think this film is a 'must have' or even really a 'must see', but it was well done.
The best part of the night, still (aside from hearing a whole movie worth of german), was walking out of Muse at nearly midnight and having the street to myself as I walked to my car.