There are all kinds of insightful things that I could say about this movie, and it’s creator Werner Herzog, but I am not a sophisticated thinker and most of what I would say has been gleaned from the articles I read the other day about the film. (Quite an excellent one can be found here at Senses of Cinema.)
I’ll stick to what I know – German speaking actors dressed in Conquistador armor and 16th century Spanish outfits, trekking through the South American jungle, is a very funny concept. With minimal dialogue and many a slow pan of the thick foliage and the raging Amazon, Herzog tells the story of Lope de Aguirre, a mad soldier in search of El Dorado. As with many Herzog movies this one was about obsession, and while Klaus Kinski gave a memorable performance of a man totally caught up in his own folly, I was far more interested in the images that Herzog is so skilled at crafting.
From the opening scene, where a long line of soldiers and captured Peruvian Indians are winding down an epicly steep path on a mountain that plummets through the mist, to the last scene, where Aguirre is the last man alive on a ruined raft that has been overrun with monkeys, I was mesmerized.
An enjoyable movie, but an odd one. Exactly the sort of bizarreness that I have come to expect from Herzog. Keep it coming!