After the downfall of the Inca Empire, the conquistador Gonzolo Pizzaro is searching for the legendary city of gold, El Dorado, but his expeditionary force has run out of supplies. Pizzaro decides to send out a small scouting party to enlist the help of local tribes, if possible, and gather information about the location of El Dorado. Don Pedro de Ursua, Pizzaro’s best man, is appointed to lead the group, but the second-in-command, Don Lope de Aguirre, has other plans, believing that he is the literal embodiment of the wrath of God.
With Aguirre, Der Zorn Gottes (1972) the UW Germanics Department Think Transatlantic Film Series takes a turn southward, examining in the next two weeks a pair of films dealing with Latin America. Aguirre was the first collaboration between director Werner Herzog (Rescue Dawn, Cave of Forgotten Dreams) and actor Klaus Kinski but it was a stormy first attempt. Film lore has it that Herzog had to force Kinski to act at gunpoint during the making of the film. However, Kinski and Herzog went on to make four more films together, including next week’s feature, Fitzcarraldo.