AGUIRRE The Wrath of God (1972)
Aguirre ranks 90 on the BFI’s 2012 Critics List and 59 on the Directors List. It is also in the Top 100 films published by TIME Magazine. It’s also 19 on the Top 100 List of World Cinema published by EMPIRE magazine. It has an 8. 0 on the IMDB from 41,962 voters which is very high.
As I watched the film, I was in a very matter-of-fact mood, allowing my experience of the story to dictate my reception. It was a very cold-blooded mood of,
“Entertain me. Wow me!”
I watched it and knew that prior to the 100 Greatest Film Ever I would have given the film *** (out of four). It’s a good film. It’s well done, but it’s not a brilliant film or great film. Kind of like how I feel about The African Queen (1951) which I’ve always thought was a very roughly-made film, with good performances, making it a good film, but not an excellent, brilliant or great film. The African Queen wouldn’t rate in my top ten Humphrey Bogart films or my top ten Katherine Hepburn films. They made a lot of good films, and it’s certainly a highlight of their careers and it is a treat to see them together but it’s a pretty slim film.
Now I need to break it all down and examine Aguirre. Its reputation is mind-boggling.
It tells a story, that is very interesting, in a very matter-of-fact and traditional film narrative.
It has top-notch production values. It is very well photographed and the production is excellent – there’s nothing cut-rate about it.
The way the camera is hidden from the audience is like Pickpocket (1959) or A Man Escaped (1962). Exceptional. Except, Herzog had to deal with a raft on the water and film it with a camera on the water or zoomed in from the shore to get a rock-steady shot. There are many shots which I can’t explain. How a big camera could achieve that on location is extraordinary. Maybe it was shot on 16mm not 35mm. I don’t know.
What is extraordinary about it?
The fact it was made in 1972.
The fact that it was made on location in the Amazon with a film crew.
The fact that it was set on the water (not in a studio).
The fact it was seamlessly edited, with Indians on the shore and people on the craft. The arrows from the Indians penetrating the bodies of the people on the mission is excellent.
Despite the fact that they didn’t have studio-like conditions because they were set up on location – obviously with a terrific crew – and probably shooting out of sequence, everything marries together well.
KINGSMAN The Golden Circle (2017)
The first film was a hoot. This one was more of a shoot.
As long as you’re fine with the fact that violence is a big fat joke, and Colin Firth’s recovery from violence isn’t a big fat joke, you won’t be offended by installment one or two.
The first was understated – to a degree – and when overstated explained it away through comparisons to James Bond films – very cleverly in the coup de grâce from Samuel L to Colin F. There’s irony all the way through the first film.
- Like a lot of sequels, the second film leaves out understating in favour of overstating.
- I’m guessing the first one cost $50 million and the second one double that, $100 million.
- Other than Samuel L. Jackson and Colin Firth and a small role for Michael Caine, I think Mark Hamill’s the next biggest star, as the professor in #1, although Jack Davenport’s appearance at the start – as a super-agent – is a fabulous twist in the opening sequence.
- #2 boasts a – I can finally use this word in a really good context – plethora of stars, some who only appear for a few scenes, and some who appear in a lot of scenes.
This is my theory on casting, as pitched to the actor’s agents:
“Look guys, our first film made $400 million worldwide but only about a $100 million in America, so we’re going to set the next one in America, and it will do double the business. Our idea is to stack it full of big-name stars, and we’ll give a bonus of 1% of box office gross in the U. S. on every ticket sold. How many days can I get with <insert star’s name > for $1 million plus 1% of gross?
- Channing Tatum said five days, “but I’m starting another film the day after tomorrow, so you’ll probably have to put me in a cryo-freeze for most of the film. Hey, I can do English, what about this for an English accent? – I’ll even wear a suit – I swear – if I’m gonna star in the next one, right? I can even throw in a few words with my accent, like ‘who is this tosser?’ But, Oh! Oh! Can we squeeze in a bit of soft-shoe-shuffle or a dance number, you know, when I’m going crazy, before they freeze my body?”
- Halle Berry said ten days
- Julianne Moore said ten days
- Jeff Bridges said three days
- Michael Gambon said four hours, “But I get paid whatever Mickey got paid for the first one. And that’s a deal. But, no special make-up. No crumbly skin. I’m a regular person wearing a suit and tie or it’s ixs-nay on the eal-day. Ight-ray?”
- Emily Watson said, “I’ll do it for free.”
- Bruce Greenwood said, “You’re joking! I’ll send up George W. for nothing. I love playing American Presidents. Actually, I will take the money! I’m not Jeff Bridges for Christsakes! I need the money.”
- Elton John said four days (he doesn’t need the money but is keen to promote his back catalogue), with one rider, “It is conditional that I must be required to say or scream f*** at someone every time I’m on screen. It’s not live, right?”)
Amongst the films I’m watching there are the films that come up as part of everyday life. Two nights ago, I watched A Room with a View (1985) because Miriam was here and that was the plan. Two weeks ago, I watched Moana (2016) with the girls because none of us had seen it and everyone was keen. Tonight, my dad was over and he wanted to see Kingsman Part II (2017), so off we went. Four nights ago, my wife finally agreed to watch the first Kingsman (2014) film (which I wanted to see before seeing the second one). And in the last seven day I also watched Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972), Le Jetee (1962), Sans Soleil (1983) and tomorrow, Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979).