Aguirre: The Wrath of God
West German director Werner Herzog's first foray into the extremes of humanity via filmmaking insanity yields his first unmistakably sublime achievement. Aguirre (Klaus Kinski, in his first of what would be five unforgettable works with Herzog) is a 16th century Spanish conquistador on Pizarro's wild-goose chase expedition seeking a fabled Peruvian city of gold. Pizarro sends Aguirre and a small cadre upriver on perilously makeshift rafts to see what, if anything, they find. What they discover has less to do with territory perhaps uncharted by Europeans than the irrational depths into which, quite possibly, any rational, sentient being can plummet. So many things conspire to make Aguirre such scorching document: Kinski's brutish acting ballet never again had such a suitably sympathetic onscreen character and the ghostly ambient music provided by Popol Voh's Florian Fricke maintains the other-worldly, ethereal tone throughout. But even 30 years later writer/director Herzog remains the inscrutable mind powering this transcendent feat of cinema high-wire walkingótry finding any company or person willing to finance something like this, much less an insurance company willing to cover itóriddled with hallucinatory, haunting imagery and one of the more profoundly eerie closing scenes on celluloid.