Movies at the Goethe-Institut: A German look at South America

The madness of some early pioneers in South America can be found at Santiago's Goethe-Institut this month as a retrospective of German movies with connections to South America is shown in honor of Chile’s Bicentennial. Among the films showcased are two classics by Werner Herzog, Aguirre, the Wrath of God and Fitzcarraldo.

Santiago Chile
Photo courtesy Aguirre, the Wrath of God

Aguirre tells the story of "conquistadors" in search of El Dorado, the legendary lost city of gold. In their quest, the expedition group will have to navigate down a river into unexplored areas of the Amazonian jungle.

Santiago Chile
Photo courtesy Aguirre, the Wrath of God

Their journey soon takes a turn for the worse as Don Lope de Aguirre, the title character played by Klaus Kinski, descends into madness and takes command of the expedition. He is “the wrath of God,” a traitor to the Spanish Monarchy and a traitor to all. Leading his men deep into the Amazonian jungle, Aguirre will draw a line with no end, a torturous line down the river from which there will be no return.

Along the same line is the 1982 film, Fitzcarraldo, which also features Klaus Kinski in the lead role, this time as Irishman Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald, a.k.a. Fitzcarraldo.

Although similar to Aguirre in his immoderate ambition and actions, the film and character of Fitzcarraldo are more positive as a whole.

Santiago Chile
Photo courtesy Fitzcarraldo

Rather than setting off on an endless journey to conquer unexplored lands like Aguirre, Fiztcarraldo embarks on his journey through the Amazonian jungle to bring something quite different to the region: an opera house.

His voyage is clearly defined and has a set goal: to discover an area through which he can drag his boat across the jungle and into a parallel river, with the goal of exploiting the rubber resources of the area in order to build his dream opera house in the city of Iquitos, Peru.

The characters of Aguirre and Fitzcarraldo are quite different as well, with the latter being quite shy and childish when trying to convince wealthy individuals to participate in his project and needing the maternal support of a woman (Claudia Cardinal). He also wins over authority on his boat, whereas Aguirre was a tyrant with absolute and unquestioned authority that led him to cruelty.

Fitzcarraldo´s journey and expected return draw a loop through the jungle, whereas Aguirre’s path was that of an endless line.

Both films are excellent reasons to attend the retrospective, especially considering the difficult conditions faced in shooting in the jungle. The worst of which was possibly Kinski himself, who broke down in
extremely violent rages during the making of the films (see the documentary, My Best Fiend), which even resulted in an offer by the natives to have him killed.

Goethe-Institut Chile
Calle Esmeralda 650
Metro Bellas Artes
http://www.goethe.de/ins/cl/sao/kue/flm/es5559748v.htm

“Aguirre, the Wrath of God” (1972) by Werner Herzog
Monday, April 19, 2010, 18:00, Sala de Cine ?
Tuesday, April 20, 2010, 18:00, Sala de Cine ?
Wednesday, April 21, 2010, 18:00, Sala de Cine

“Fitzcarraldo” (1981) by Werner Herzog ?
Monday, April 29, 18:00, Sala de Cine ?
Friday, April 30, 2010, 18:00, Sala de Cine ?
Sunday, May 2, 18:00, Sala de Cine

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