FITZCARRALDO
1982, Werner Herzog Film, 158 min, West Germany/Peru, Dir: Werner Herzog

Rubber baron and music fanatic Fitzcarraldo (Klaus Kinski) journeys down the darkest byways of the Amazon to build an opera house at the rainforest’s heart. Like his title character, director Werner Herzog reaches an ambitious pinnacle of achievement here – the staggeringly impossible odds that seem to weigh against Fitzcarraldo ever reaching his goal were mirrored by Herzog’s own attempts to complete the film (which were chronicled in Les Blank’s astonishing documentary BURDEN OF DREAMS). Co-starring a ravishing Claudia Cardinale as Fitzcarraldo’s strong, outspoken paramour who believes in him. A must-see!


DEATH ROW II
2013, Investigation Discovery, 208 min, USA, Dir: Werner Herzog

Director Werner Herzog continues the exploration of capital punishment that he began with 2011’s INTO THE ABYSS with four new, 52-minute documentaries profiling condemned inmates: PORTRAIT: DOUGLAS FELDMAN, PORTRAIT: ROBERT FRATTA, PORTRAIT: BLAINE MILAM and PORTRAIT: DARLIE ROUTIER. These case studies of convicts on death row powerfully examine the ethics of the death penalty and the humanity of the accused without resorting to easy answers or preaching. Herzog’s talent for observing eccentric behavior and his obsession with probing complex issues are both on triumphant display in this ambitious piece of cinematic moral inquiry.


AGUIRRE, THE WRATH OF GOD
AGUIRRE, DER ZORN GOTTES
1972, Werner Herzog Film, 93 min, Germany, Dir: Werner Herzog

Klaus Kinski is Aguirre, a power-hungry lunatic who leads a Spanish military expedition down the Amazon in hopes of finding El Dorado, the legendary city of gold. From the opening images of conquistadors snaking their way through the jungle, director Werner Herzog’s epic achieves a rare, operatic delirium. Laced with surreal humor - “Spears are getting longer this year,” notes one skewered soldier - AGUIRRE is the first of the great Kinski -Herzog collaborations (the two reportedly met when their families shared a house together in Munich). With Helena Rojo, Del Negro. “One of the great haunting visions of the cinema” – Roger Ebert. English language version.


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