Having failed in its quest for El Dorado, the fabled City of Gold, the 1560 expedition of Spanish conquistador Gonzalo Pizarro comes to a halt in the impenetrable jungles of Peru, where Pizarro then elects three nobles to continue with the search. Travelling down river on a raft, the explorers face treacherous waters, near starvation and hostile indigenous communities. In his own thirst for glory, nobleman soldier Don Lope de Aguirre (Klaus Kinski) commandeers the raft and begins slaughtering anyone who dares oppose him…
Werner Herzog’s visionary voyage into the heart of 16th-century colonial darkness, Aguirre, Wrath of God (1972), is without doubt one of the director’s most accomplished works: an ambitious exploration of megalomania and savage beauty.
Shot under arduous conditions in the high Andes near Machu Picchu, Herzog’s mad masterpiece is a film rich in wonders. There’s the exciting, cautionary tale: ruthless, pious invaders come a cropper while plundering the riches of Peru and enslaving its indigenous dwellers; the epic grandeur of the alien landscape, that’s both beautiful and dangerous (and looks fantastic in HD); and the legendary volatile Klaus Kinski’s career-best performance as the crazed Aguirre.
THE BFI RELEASE
The BFI Limited Edition Steelbook features a restored 1080p presentation of 93-minute film in its original aspect ratio 1.33:1 with original PCM 1.0 mono audio (German and English) and alternative 5.1 surround audio (German) in German, plus optional English subtitles. It also includes four early Herzog shorts, trailer and stills gallery, two audio commentaries with Werner Herzog, and a collector’s booklet.
• The BFI’s Werner Herzog Collection box set, which spans 20 years of the director’s career, from 1967–1987, will be released on 21 July on Blu-ray (8 discs) and DVD (7 discs).