Aguirre: The Wrath of God (1972)

Director: Werner Herzog Cinematographer: Thomas Mauch
 Aguirre, Wrath of God (1972) on IMDb

One of the great haunting visions of world cinema and the first collaboration between Herzog and star Klaus Kinski, the story follows the mostly fictionalised travels of sixteenth century Spanish soldier Lope de Aguirre, who, in open and irrational defiance of nature and God, leads a group of conquistadors down the Orinoco and Amazon River in South America in search of the legendary city of gold, El Dorado. With its incongruous adherence to courtly grandeur in the midst of the jungle, the film is both a parody and criticism of colonialism. By means of extreme camera angles and long shots, Herzog visualises primordial nature as an antagonistic and terrifying force that dwarfs and eventually destroys the coloniser. The film is also notable for the infamous production incidents such as Herzog (who was unarmed at the time) threatening to shoot the unpredictable and difficult Kinski if he left the set.

Buy or Rent (watch online)
Herzog & Kinski Collection – 5-Disc Box Set ( Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes / Cobra Verde / Fitzcarraldo / Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht / Woyzeck ) ( Agu [Blu-Ray]
Aguirre – The Wrath Of God / Fitzcarraldo / Little Dieter Needs to Fly (Werner Herzog 3 Pack) (DVD)
Aguirre, the Wrath of God (BFI Film Classics) (book)


Kinski was maverick German director Herzog’s first choice for the role. Aguirre was the first of five collaborations between Herzog and Kinski who had met many years earlier when the then-struggling young actor rented a room in Herzog’s family apartment, and Kinski’s often terrifying and deranged antics during the three months he lived there left a lasting impression on the director. They had differing views as to how the lead role should be played as Kinski wanted to play a “wild, ranting madman”, but Herzog wanted something “quieter, more menacing”. In order to get the performance he desired, before each shot Herzog would deliberately infuriate Kinski. After waiting for the hot-tempered actor’s anger to “burn itself out”, Herzog would then roll the camera. They continued to clash throughout filming as Kinski’s infamous rages terrorized both the crew and the locals who were assisting the production. 

  • Helena Rojo as Inés de Atienza
  • Ruy Guerra as Don Pedro de Ursúa
  • Del Negro as Brother Gaspar de Carvajal
  • Peter Berling as Don Fernando de Guzmán
  • Cecilia Rivera as Flores de Aguirre
  • Daniel Ades as Perucho
  • Edward Roland as Okello
  • Armando Polanah as Armando
  • Alejandro Repullés as Gonzalo Pizarro
  • Justo González as González

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