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Aguirre, Wrath Of God

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Werner Herzog's 1972 account of the conquistadors' ill-fated search for the city of El Dorado follows the insanely ambitious Don Lope de Aguirre (Kinski). As he leads his caravan into the heart of darkness, the ensuing nightmare makes Coppola's 'Nam odyssey look like a Sunday School picnic.

After months of frayed tempers in the jungles of South America, Herzog emerged with a slew of beautifully coloured, hallucinatory images. The opening shot alone is extraordinary: the thousand-strong expedition is seen snaking through the jungle, the men dragging cannons through the mud in full battle armour while the women are carried aloft in sedan chairs by their native bearers. Other haunting images (made all the more memorable by Popol Vuh's choral score) include a raft of soldiers sucked into a whirlpool, a lethal shower of poisoned arrows and the final shot of Aguirre among the corpses of his men. Rarely has German romanticism been so fully realised on screen.

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