Once the enfant terrible of post-war German cinema, the single-minded director Werner Herzog made half a dozen great films in the 1970s, including Fata Morgana, Every Man for Himself and God Against All and his chilling update on F.W. Murnau, Nosferatu, the Vampyre. But Herzog's most memorable (and most characteristic) work of the period is probably Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972).
It stars wild-eyed Klaus Kinski as a sixteenth-century Spanish conquistador leading a band of explorers through the Amazon jungle on an insane search for the legendary city of gold, El Dorado. This highly personal vision is a bitter commentary on human exploitation and the demons of individual obsession, which is something Herzog knows all about. The visual beauty of Aguirre is matched only by its horror, and Kinski's performance is likely the greatest Herzog ever got from his frequent collaborator. The film is based, loosely, on the journals of Brother Gaspar de Carvajal.
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Aguirre will screen Sunday, June 8, at 7 and 9:15 p.m. as part of the International Film Series at the University of Colorado, Boulder; showings are in Muenzinger Auditorium, just west of Folsom Stadium. For more information, call 303-492-1531 or go to www.internationalfilmseries.com.