Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes (1972)
Klaus Kinski's powerhouse performance is the zenith of this moody, atmospheric and at times breathtakingly photographed historically inspired account about a group of Spanish conquistadors locked in an ill-fated search for El Dorado – a promised land ostensibly filled with gold. Considering Werner Herzog's ambition and the piece's allegoric potential, it is a surprise to find such obvious weaknesses as are present here. The drama is erratic and the interpersonal elements are underdeveloped – most characters and situations just appear, they are not given time to come to life. Of course, Herzog is mostly interested in death, and through Kinski and a great soundtrack by Popol Vuh, we are taken on a downward spiral which could have been enormously haunting with a bit more vigilant direction. The reported power struggle on location between Herzog and Kinski seems to have been won by the latter, who presents an idiosyncratic megalomaniac with a staggering walk and wild eyes which harbour far more than this film is able to cover. Released with both a German and an English language track – both of which are unsatisfactory.