Aguirre, the Wrath of God  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Aguirre, the Wrath of God (Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes) is a 1972 West German New Wave adventure art film written and directed by Werner Herzog. Klaus Kinski stars in the title role. The soundtrack was composed and performed by German progressive/Krautrock band Popol Vuh. The story follows the travels of Spanish soldier Lope de Aguirre, who leads a group of conquistadores down the Amazon River in South America in search of the legendary city of gold, El Dorado. Using a minimalist story and dialogue, the film creates a vision of madness and folly, counterpointed by the lush but unforgiving Amazonian jungle. Although based loosely on what is known of the historical figure of Aguirre, the film's story line is, as Herzog acknowledged years after the film's release, a work of imagination. Some of the people and situations may have been inspired by Gaspar de Carvajal's account of an earlier Amazonian expedition, although Carvajal was not on the historical voyage represented in the film. Other accounts state that the expedition went into the jungles but never returned to civilization.

Aguirre was the first of five collaborations between Herzog and the volatile Kinski. The director and the actor had differing views as to how the role should be played, and they clashed throughout the film's production, while Kinski's tantrums terrorized both the crew and the local natives who assisted the production. The production was shot entirely on location, and was fraught with difficulties. Filming took place in the Peruvian rainforest on the Amazon River during an arduous five-week period, shooting on tributaries of the Ucayali region. The cast and crew climbed mountains, cut through heavy vines to open routes to the various jungle locations, and rode treacherous river rapids on rafts built by natives.

Aguirre opened to widespread critical acclaim, and quickly developed a large international cult film following. It was given an extensive arthouse theatrical release in the United States in 1977, and remains one of the director's best known films. Several critics have declared the film a masterpiece, and it has appeared on Time magazine's list of "All Time 100 Best Films". Aguirre’s visual style and narrative elements had a strong influence on Francis Ford Coppola's 1979 film Apocalypse Now.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Aguirre, the Wrath of God" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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