“People like Brando are just kindergarten compared with Kinski… He is totally mad and unpredictable. It’s very hard to domesticate this wild man. I almost shot him it got so bad. There are rumors I directed him behind the camera with a gun. This is not true. He threatened to leave the set and I explained very calmly that I did have a rifle. He would reach the bend of the river, but with eight bullets. You can see there is something raging in this man. I owe him a lot. We owe each other a lot. We liked each other, we hated each other and we respected each other. It’s not easy to explain our relationship. It sounds like a paradox. The only thing that counts is what we see on screen." – Werner Herzog
Your film is like your children. You might want a child with certain qualities, but you are never going to get the exact specification right. The film has a privilege to live its own life and develop its own character. To suppress this is dangerous. It is an approach that works the other way too: sometimes the footage has amazing qualities that you did not expect. -Werner Herzog
“In my films landscapes are never just picturesque or scenic backdrops as they often are in Hollywood films. In Aguirre the jungle is never some lush, beautiful environment it might be in a television commercial. Sometimes when you see the jungle in the film it is a reality so strange you cannot trust it, and maybe think it is a special effect. The jungle is really all about our dreams, our deepest emotions, our nightmares. It is not just a location, it is a state of our mind. It has almost human qualities. It is a vital part of the characters’ inner landscapes. The question I asked myself when first confronted by the jungle was ‘How can I use this terrain to portray landscapes of the mind?’ I had never been to Peru before filming but had imagined the landscapes and the atmosphere with real precision. It was curious because when I arrived there everything was exactly as I had imagined it. It was as if the landscapes had no choice: they had to fit my imagination and submit themselves to my ideas of what they should look like.” – Werner Herzog
“We actually built a boat, partially in the treetop, which was 120ft high. It was heavy and huge. All for a sequence that lasts about 30 seconds. Who knows, it might actually still be up there.” - Werner Herzog
To celebrate the release of this beautifully observant, sprawling epic, producer Curtis Tsui shared some interesting tidbits that he discovered while working on the release – click here to read 10 Things We Learned about this long-unavailable masterpiece.
I am the great traitor. There must be no other. Anyone who even thinks about deserting this mission will be cut up into 198 pieces. Those pieces will be stamped on until what is left can be used only to paint walls. Whoever takes one grain of corn or one drop of water… more than his ration, will be locked up for 155 years. If I, Aguirre, want the birds to drop dead from the trees… then the birds will drop dead from the trees. I am the wrath of God. The earth I pass will see me and tremble.
Aguirre, The Wrath of God 1972, Directed by Werner Herzog