Clash: Aguirre: The Wrath of God Review (BFI Reissue)

I am the Wrath of GodFirst published in Clash magazine, June 2013
Opening with a breathtaking zoom where the Peruvian foothills dwarf a party of Spanish conquistadors as they descend from cloud into rainforest, this account of their search for the lost gold of the Incas was reportedly written in a frenzy and whose shooting, involved a shooting.

Werner Herzog’s 1972 masterpiece certainly warrants this new transfer and re-release into cinemas by the BFI. As with Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, which it inspired, the decision to film on location pitched cast and crew deep into the menacing jungle. Cinematographer Thomas Mauch’s wandering hand-held camera captures the long journey down the tributaries of the Amazon, which become as much a character of the expedition as its crazed leader, Klaus Kinski’s Aguirre. Danger is ever evident as water washes over rafts, muddies costumes and obscures the lens.

Epic, mystical and entirely in awe of nature, the film drove those involved to mirror the descent of the narrative into madness. Offscreen, Kinski reportedly shot at an extra and, though Herzog as always denied it, was later cajoled into performing by the director at gunpoint. Whatever the truth, this is an unrivalled and astonishing voyage – into storytelling, cinema and the very heart of darkness.

 

 

About Kingsley Marshall

Kingsley Marshall is Head of Film at the CILECT accredited School of Film & Television based within Falmouth University in the UK. The subject area consists of 28 staff working with 300 undergraduates studying the Skillset accredited BA (Hons) Film degree, supplemented by a postgraduate community studying from MA level through to PhD. Kingsley’s research and practice primarily orientates around the use of sound (including music and effects) in cinema and television, and the production of short and micro-budget feature films. He executive produced Wilderness (Director: Justin John Doherty, 2017) which won 12 awards at 16 international film festivals since making its premiere at Cinequest. In 2018 he co-produced with Neil Fox the short HP Lovecraft adaptation Backwoods (Director: Ryan Mackfall, 2018), beginning its festival journey in 2019. Kingsley began work as composer on a film project with director Mark Jenkin and production company Early Day Films. The film completed principal photography in Autumn 2018, and is currently in post production. For over twenty years he has worked as a journalist, interviewing filmmakers, musicians, and designers for over 30 publications and broadcasters worldwide, written album sleeve notes and biographies for over 100 artists, and contributed to anthologies on hip hop and soul. He can be found on Twitter as @kingsleydc