(Aguirre, Der Zorn Gottes)
Set in 1560, the movie depicts the doomed Peruvian expedition headed by Spaniard Gonzales Pizarro in search of rumored gold in El Dorado. Dispatched by the explorer Pizarro, a band of Spaniards, alongside some natives, is sent through the Peruvian jungle to find El Dorado and claim it for Spain. Led by Don Pedro de Ursua (Ruy Guerra), with the brash Don Lope de Aguirre (Klaus Kinski) his right hand, the film begins with a breathtaking scene set during a treacherous fog, accompanied by Popol Vuh’s haunting score. Their ensuing journey involves group tensions, overt conflicts, attempts of rebellions and mutinies, and at the end, sheer madness and self-destruction.
In this legendary inquiry, which has become a cult film in some critical circles, the narrative is inseparable from the making of the movie itself, documented in several non-fictional works. Shot on location, the film benefits from Herzog’s obsession with authenticity and attention to detail to the ultimately futile mission of the conquistadors.
The running time is only 90 minutes, but every second and shot count in this intensely dramatic yet also lyrical feature.