Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972)

Genres - Adventure, Historical Film  |   Sub-Genres - Adventure Drama, Jungle Film, Historical Epic  |   Run Time - 95 min.  |   Countries - Germany, Mexico, Peru, United States  |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Mark Deming

Few actor/director relationships were more combative than that of Klaus Kinski and Werner Herzog (most manage to creatively negotiate without resorting to the threat of lethal violence), but fewer still so dramatically brought out the best in each artist. Before Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes, Kinski was a fine actor who made a career out of starring in third-rate films, while Herzog was a skillful filmmaker whose works often lacked the clear focal points they needed. But with Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes, Kinski finally had a role worthy of his gifts as the gloriously mad conquistador Aguirre, and Herzog had a leading man whose bizarre but inarguably potent charisma made him impossible to ignore; tgoether, they brought a bizarre, surreal story to vivid and sweaty life. While Kinski and Herzog would make four more films together, Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes remains perhaps the best work either man ever did; the final shot, of the psychotic Aguirre, doomed but glowing with what he believes to be triumph, standing tall on a raft overrun with monkeys, is just the sort of image that this pair of mad geniuses could have only created together.