Aguirre, the Wrath of God (Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes) (Umbrella) (1973)

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Released 21-Jul-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Audio Commentary-Werner Herzog (Director) And Norman Hill (Journalist)
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Theatrical Trailer-In English And German
Trailer-Herzog Collection
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1973
Running Time 94:21 (Case: 96)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (58:32) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Werner Herzog
Studio
Distributor

Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Klaus Kinski
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Popol Vuh


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None German Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    In 1561 the Spanish adventurer Pizarro is looking for the fabled golden city of El Dorado. Seemingly lost in the jungle, he sends a portion of his company down the Amazon with instructions to look around for the city and report back in one week. He delegates Ursua (Ruy Guerra) the command of the company, with Don Lope de Aguirre (Klaus Kinski) as second in command. Both bring women with them: Ursua his mistress and Aguirre his daughter.

    Almost immediately the expedition strikes trouble. One of their rafts is stuck in a whirlpool by rapids, and the remaining rafts are washed away when the river rises 15 feet in one night. Soon Ursua's command is questioned by Aguirre. Aguirre instigates a mutiny and instead of returning to Pizarro he and the company press on down the river, beset by Indians and increasing madness.

    This was the first of five collaborations between director Werner Herzog and actor Klaus Kinski. Shot in Peru using a stolen camera with minimal crew, the film is a remarkable tale of obsession and madness. It achieves a dreamlike quality which makes it spellbinding. It is full of bizarre touches, some of which were planned (a ship hangs in a tree well above the level that the water could reach), and some which were unplanned (the surreal sight of a horse abandoned by the water's edge - the horse was put ashore due to problems on board the raft). The scenes involving the men trapped on the raft in an eddy are surreal and frightening, as the actors involved were in genuine physical danger.

    This film put Herzog on the map, due in no small degree to the remarkable performance by Kinski. He utterly convinces as the brutal, menacing and ultimately deranged Aguirre. He also provides several unexpected bits of comedy, such as when he manages to cause a horse to fall down by yelling at it, and throwing a small monkey away during the final sequences (this film does not have the usual disclaimer about no animals being hurt during the production, for obvious reasons).

    This is a one-of-a-kind movie being released with four other movies of the same kind and a documentary in a six-disc box set called the Herzog-Kinski Collection. Reviews of the other discs in the set will be forthcoming.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film appears to have been originally shot in 1.37:1, and this transfer presented at 1.33:1.

    This is just about the best condition I have seen this film in, though it is by no means perfect. The colour is excellent, with the jungle greens looking natural and flesh tones realistic. The image is quite sharp and clear, though there is a lack of fine detail. Shadow detail is good and contrast is just about right.

    Film to video artefacts are present in the form of some slight motion blurring. At times the transfer is a little grainy as well. There are almost no film artefacts.

    Optional English subtitles are provided in a yellow font. They are well timed and easy to read. Virtually all of the dialogue is subtitled.

    The disc is RSDL-formatted with the layer change quite well placed at 58:32.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The default soundtrack is German Dolby Digital 5.1, with an alternative English dub in 2.0.

    The soundtrack appears to be entirely dubbed, as audio sync is merely approximate throughout. Judging from the English trailer included as an extra the two women on the expedition were speaking their lines in English. Dialogue is clear though some of the audio is a little soft.

    The surround remastering of what must have been a mono track originally is not too bad. Most of the time it is very frontal, with music and effects at a low level in the rear channels. Occasionally it is a bit more enveloping, such as with the sound of the rapids coming from all speakers. The subwoofer is barely used, apart from a couple of cannon shots.

    The excellent music score is by Popol Vuh. Sounding like something out of one of Brian Eno's experimental albums, it adds an eerie tone to proceedings and heightens the sense of unreality that the picture strives for.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Main Menu Audio

    The main menu features some audio from the film.

Audio Commentary-Werner Herzog (Director) And Norman Hill (Journalist)

    Another fine commentary track, with the director recalling many of the problems he had with the production, including at least one instance where he threatened to kill his star. He talks at length about how he would tire Kinski out in order to get a better performance. Also of interest are the recollections about scenes which were shot on the spur of the moment and included for no particular narrative reason. Some information is provided about the real-life Aguirre.

Biographies-Cast & Crew

    One text page each for the director and star.

Theatrical Trailer-In English And German (6:42)

    Two trailers are provided. In fact, both appear to be the same trailer but with different audio. The German version has no subtitles.

Trailers-Herzog Collection (13:29)

    Trailers for the other 5 discs in the box set.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    In comparison to the Region 1 release, the Region 4 misses out on:

    The Region 1 misses out on one of the trailers. Not really much difference between these two. The UK Region 2 has the same specifications as the Region 1.

    There was a previous release of this film in Region 4. I have not seen this release, but I am told that it had only the English language soundtrack. However, the new Region 4 appears to be available only as part of a box set.

Summary

    A remarkable film, one of the best films made in the 1970s. Well worth owning.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is very good.

    The audio commentary is an excellent extra.

There is an Official Distributor Comment available for this review.
read

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Sunday, September 18, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

Other Reviews NONE
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Official Distributor Response - Umbrella Ent