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Benelli, Dana. "The Cosmos and Its Discontents." The Films of Werner Herzog: Between Mirage and History. Ed. Timothy Corrigan. New York: Methuen, 1986.
Benelli compares Herzog's Signs of Life and Aguirre, the Wrath of God from an auteristic point of view. Auterism focuses on "the text's contribution to an increased understanding of the auteur or genre intertext in relation to which the individual text stands" (90). Benelli argues that the films share three formal characteristics, namely the reliance on landscape, the narratives of rebellion, and the use of similar leitmotifs. Providing the reader with a detailed analysis of the two films, Benelli convincingly argues that "Herzog's ideas underwent a substantial shift between Signs of Life and Aguirre, the Wrath of God [since] there is significance difference in the two films' narrational description and evaluation of the heroes' rebellions" (99).
Davidson, John. "As Others Put Plays upon the Stage: Aguirre, Neocolonialism, and the New German Cinema." New German Critique 60 (1993): 101-30.
Davidson first gives a brief account of the evolution of the New German Cinema. He then refers to the way "in which academics, long after [Herzog's] later work fell out of favor in the mid-1980s," have continued using "concepts steeped in the aesthetic traditions of German romanticism -- the hero/artist/genius and the sublime in particular—in their examination of his early films" (103). Davidson provides a detailed close reading of Aguirre in which he re-examines Rabasa's concept of the "inner Other."
Ebert, Roger. Rev. of Aguirre, the Wrath of God. Chicago Sun-Times 4 April 1999.
This film is "one of the great haunting visions of the cinema." The music is organically part of the film's effect, making the audience "feel like detached observers, standing outside time, saddened by the immensity of the universe as it bears down on the dreams and delusions of man." Kinski's haunted face is crucial too. The pace is unhurried, and the film is not driven by dialogue. "What Herzog sees in the story, I think, is what he finds in many of his films: Men haunted by a vision of great achievement, who commit the sin of pride by daring to reach for it, and are crushed by an implacable universe."
Fritze, Ronald. "Werner Herzog's Adaptation of History in Aguirre, The Wrath of God." Film & History 15.4 (1985): 74-86.
Fritze's main purpose is to show how director Herzog uses historical facts in order to achieve "his own philosophical purposes." He undermines the idea that the Aguirre character is just "an artistic creation" by providing brief biographies of the real historical figures of Lope de Aguirre and Pedro de Ursua. Then Fritzie compares the events that took place in the reality with those in the movie, such as, for instance, setting up expeditions in search of El Dorado or the death of Aquirre. By showing the existing discrepancies Fritze makes the point that Herzog pursues goals other than reproduction of the real history. Herzog's intention is to show how "a hostile world" destroys men whose "ambitions and actions diverge too far from the reality of human limits" by driving them into madness. In the movie, this " hostile world" is represented by "insurmountable" nature and unseen Indians that launch sporadic attacks on the travelers. Fritzie goes on to address Herzog's techniques. Aguirre operates as a contemporary allegory when it shows "the racial and imperialistic oppressions committed by the greedy Spaniards and by the extension western society." The movie can also be viewed as an historical allegory by drawing parallels between Aguirre and Hitler. The third significant element of the movie is "existential commentary on the human condition." This "condition of alienation" from the universe is created by the inability of humans to understand that nature is "either hostile or indifferent" to them. In fact, this very condition is responsible for human "madness." Fritze insists that in the beginning of the movie the Aguirre character appears to be saner than the other people including Pizarro, Ursua, or Guzman. However, he gets caught up in the events and goes mad unable to give up the expedition that had been doomed long before he became the leader. Fritze also warns us from viewing Aguirre as a completely evil person.
Holloway, Thomas H. "Whose Conquest Is This, Anyway? Aguirre, The Wrath of God." Based on a True Story: Latin American History at the Movies. Ed. Donald F. Stevens. Wilmington, Delaware: Scholarly Resources Inc., 1997. 29-46.
After acknowledging that Herzog's film is loosely based on a true story and that Aguirre is not a docudrama, Holloway aims at examining the film from a historical viewpoint. Holloway first provides a chronology of the events, and then he mentions possible interpretations of the documented historical facts. He ends his essay by asking the modern reader to read and meditate on Aguirre's voice in the letter he wrote to King Philip II of Spain in September 1561. Although the author includes the full letter at the end of his article, he does not analyze it or interpret it for his audience.
Lewis, Bart L. The Miraculous Lie: Lope de Aguirre and the Search for El Dorado in the Latin American Historical Novel. Lanham: Lexington Books, 2003.
Study of novels by Uslar Pietri, Abel Posse, Miguel Otero Silva, Jorge Ernesto, Funes, and Felix Alavrez Saenz. Contains an extensive bibliography of other representations of Aguirre as well as a substantial secondary bibliography.
Minta, Stephen. "Aguirre, The Wrath of God." Past Imperfect: History According to the Movies. Ed. Mark C. Carnes. New York: Holt, 1995. 74-77.
Brief discussion commenting on some of the characters, the most central scenes, and Herzog's point of view about the film. Minta also mentions some historic facts and points out how they differ from the ones portrayed in the film. The article includes informative blurbs about Aguirre's Route down the Amazon, Phillip II of Spain, the Spanish Church, and El Dorado.
Sharman, Gundula M. "The Jungle Strikes Back: European Defeat at the Hands of the South American Landscape in the Films of Werner Herzog." Journal of Transatlantic Studies 2.1 (2004): 96-109.
Sharman starts by mentioning that "in the European imagination South America offers a paradoxical kind of utopia [that] stands for a new beginning by serving as an escape from unjust oppression on the one hand, and as a hideaway from rightful retribution on the other" (96). Sharman then briefly describes the tenets of the New German cinema and analyzes three films by Herzog set in the South American jungle. Sharman first discusses Aguirre, the Wrath of God, examining the film's use of such symbols as the cannon, the paper and ink, and the horse, which are generally connected with civilization and European power. Sharman then comments on Burden of Dreams in which Herzog gives his own perspective on the South American jungle. Finally, Sharman analyzes Fitzcarraldo, which, similarly to Aguirre has generally be considered "anticolonial and progressive in content and form" (107). Throughout, Sharman subtly, yet in a poignantly convincing manner, questions the validity of Herzog's claim that the jungle strikes back, especially when the actual political and economic reality suggests the opposite: human beings have actually destroyed the rainforest.
Stiles, Victoria M. "Fact and Fiction: Nature's Endgame in Werner Herzog's Aguirre, the Wrath of God. Literature/Film Quarterly 17.3 (1989): 161-67.
Stiles initially addresses Herzog's specific cinematic decisions in regards to what was fact and what was fabricated. For instance, he created this film combining information from several crucial moments in history that all happen to relate to this expedition. But, though both Pizarro and Ursua led expeditions, they were in reality two different expeditions. Stiles explicates further into Herzog's choices regarding location and costumes -- filming the river scenes on two rivers, for example, to set the different tones. Further, Stiles argues that Herzog is more concerned with images rather than words to convey meaning and points out such visual motifs as the cage and the circle.
Waldemer, Thomas P. "Aguirre, The Wrath of God and the Chronicles of Omagua and Dorado." Secolas: Journal of the Southeastern Council on Latin American Studies 26 (1995): 42-47.
Waldemer illustrates to the reader that while director Herzog manipulates history regarding the voyage of explorer Lope de Aguirre, the film ultimately affirms the importance of historical memory and the need to produce historical narratives. In fusing certain information from other sixteenth-century Latin American "cronicas" to recreate and invent a different story, Waldemer states that it may seem like Herzog is doing a disservice to history. Yet the director is attempting to merely re-affirm and re-establish the importance of this particular historical account, overlooking historical accuracy and taking certain liberties for a more noble cause -- the hope that the story of Lope de Aguirre will persist throughout history. As the article progresses, the author enumerates some of the historical liberties taken by Herzog, including his creation of an "unreliable narrator" of the Ursua expedition, the formulation of an account of Gaspar Carvajal of the journey, and the portrayal of Aguirre's daughter and her interaction with her father. Ultimately, Waldemer seems to praise Herzog for his will to perpetuate the story of Aguirre, even if his means in doing so are not wholeheartedly accurate.
Waller, Gregory A. "Aguirre, The Wrath of God: History, Theater, and the Camera." South Atlantic Review 46.2 (1981): 55-69.
Waller explains how this film retells the story of actual events surrounding an expedition from Spain in search of El Dorado. Waller explains that no credit is given to specific historic texts, but he validates Herzog's usage of basic documents and first-hand accounts given by those who were either on the trip with Ursua and Aguirre and/or who knew them intimately. However, there are many liberties taken: Spain was not unaware of Aguirre's mutiny, his attempt to start his own country and overthrow Spanish power in South America, he had 150 men in his command, and he was eventually arrested and killed for his treason. Though none of the aforementioned information was included in the film, deviations from the story are really only seen in the very beginning and end. The article focuses on pointing out and proving Aguirre's desire to create a superior race of people, stronger than the Spanish. An example of this is seen in his desire to procreate with his daughter. Waller examines how Herzog creates a historical film in which a character is trying to break away from his existing history and forge a path to create a new one. Also, the article explains how Waller uses art (angles, landscaping, color, shading, costumes, and props) to bridge the gaps between history and his licenses taken as a filmmaker to properly convey who the characters were, particularly Aguirre, and how we as the audience are supposed to feel about them. For example, Aguirre's speeches and general demeanor. The more menacing, uncomfortable, dark and ominous the forest and native people become, the more confident and departed from reality Aguirre behaves.

See Also

Alvaray, Luisela. "Filming the 'Discovery' of America: How and Whose History Is Being Told." Film-Historia 5.1 (1995): 35-44.

Bachmann, Gideon. "The Man on the Volcano: A Portrait of Werner Herzog." Film Quarterly 31.1 (1977): 2-10.

Cleere, Elizabeth. "Three Films by Werner Herzog: Seen in Light of the Grotesque." Wide Angle 3.4 (1980): 12-19.

Freeland, Cynthia. "The Sublime in Cinema." Passionate Views: Film, Cognition, and Emotion. Ed. Carl R. Plantinga and Greg M. Smith. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1999. 65-83.

Grenier, Richard. "Why Herzog Differs." Commentary December 1982: 59-67.

Herzog, Werner. Screenplays. Trans. Alan Greenberg and Martje Herzog. New York: Tanam Press, 1980.

Hoffgen, Maggie. "Independent Minds: Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes (Aguirre, Wrath of God 1972)." Studying German Cinema. Leighton Buzzard, England: Auteur, 2009.

Horak, Jan-Christopher. "Werner Herzog's Ecran Absurde." Literature/Film Quarterly 7.3 (1979): 223-34.

Knepper, Wendy. "Translation Theory, Utopia and Utopianism, in Paul et Virginie, Aguirre: Wrath of God, Candide and New Atlantis." Dalhousie French Studies 37 (1996): 41-58.

Koepnick, Lutz P. "Colonial Forestry: Sylvan Politics in Werner Herzog's Aguirre and Fitzcarraldo." New German Critique 60 (1993): 133-59.

Nogueira, Claudia Barbosa. "Journeys of Redemption: Discoveries, Re-discoveries, and Cinematic Representations of the Americas." Ph.D. diss. University of Maryland, 2006.

Poe, Edgar Allan. "El Dorado." 1849.

Rollins, Peter C. The Columbia Companion to American History on Film: How the Movies Have Portrayed the American Past. New York: Columbia UP, 2003.

Sheehan, Paul. "Against the Image: Herzog and the Troubling Politics of the Screen Animal." SubStance 37.3 (2008): 117-36.

Staskowski, Andrea. "Film and Phenomenology: Being-In-The-World of Herzog's Aguirre: The Wrath of God." Post Script 7.3 (1988): 14-26.

Stone, Cynthia L. "Aguirre Goes to the Movies: Twentieth-Century Visions of Colonial-Era Relaciones." Bridging Continents: Cinematic and Literary Representations of Spanish and Latin American Themes. Ed. Nora Glickman and Alejandro Varderi. Tempe: U of Arizona P, 2005. 24-35.

Weaver-Hightower, Rebecca. "Revising the Vanquished: Indigenous Perspectives on Colonial Encounters." Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies 6.2 (2006): 84-102.

Wessbecher, Grace. "Mythological Archetypes Portrayed in the Film Aguirre, The Wrath of God." Journal of the Georgia Philological Association 2008: 136-42.

Video/Audio Resources

Burden of Dreams. Les Blank, Werner Herzog. Irvington: Criterion Collection, 2005.
"Goes behind the scenes in the making of Werner Herzog's Fitzcarraldo, the story of one man's attempt to build an opera house deep in the Amazon jungle. Filmmaker Les Blank captured the production, made perilous by Herzog's determination not to use models or special effects."
My Best Fiend [Mein liebster Feind]: Klaus Kinski / a co-production of Werner Herzog Filmproduktion, Café Productions, Zephir Film ; producer, Lucki Stipetic ; directed and narrated by Werner Herzog, 1999.
"Documentary with film excerpts about the stormy relationship between frequent artistic partners, director Werner Herzog and actor Klaus Kinski."

Online Resources

Aguirre: Wrath of God
Annotated bibliography of ten articles on the film.
Church, David. "Werner Herzog." Senses of Cinema.
Essay and filmography on Werner Herzog.
Church, David. "Werner Herzog." Senses of Cinema.
Overview essay and filmography.

Petzke, Ingo. "Aguirre, Wrath Of God." Senses Of Cinema: An Online Film Journal Devoted To The Serious And Eclectic Discussion Of Cinema 19 (2002).

Renaud, Nicolas, et al. "The Trail of Werner Herzog: An Interview." 31 January 2004.
Has a few details about our film.

Villiers, Jacques de. "Myth, Environment And Ideology In The German Jungle Of Aguirre, The Wrath Of God." Senses Of Cinema: An Online Film Journal Devoted To The Serious And Eclectic Discussion Of Cinema 63 (2012).

Werner Herzog
The director's official web site.
Werner Herzog -- Film Reference
Biography, bibliography, and list of works.