Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972)




Director:     Werner Herzog

Starring:     Klaus Kinski, Ruy Guerra, Del Negro, Helena Rojo, Cecilia Rivera, Peter Berling

Country:    German (with subtitles).



There is a sense of foreboding overhanging the events of the movies that keeps one's interest throughout.  The mood is one of being trapped by the at times slow moving rivers.  The film begins after the fall of the Inca Empire in Peru.  This story definitely catches one's interest.  A foolish expedition in Peru searching for the myth of El Dorado leads to big trouble for the searchers.  Klaus Kinski is perfect as the mutinous leader with a mixture of bravery and madness that keeps one guessing what his next move will be.  The moral of the story is the cost of unbridled greed and ambition. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.



Historical Background:


Gaspar de Carvajal

1500 c. -- born in Estremadura, Spain

enters the Order of St. Dominic in Spain

1533 -- goes to Peru and converts native Indians.

1540 -- Carvajal accompanies the famous expedition of Gonzalo Pizarro and 400 men to the territory of Quixos and the Amazon. After several months of very rough going, Pizarro reaches Canelos, the limit originally proposed for their expedition.

But the natives get their revenge. After the sack of the Inca Empire by the Spanish, the natives invented a legend of El Dorado that is literally a city of gold. Hearing from the natives of the existence this place, the expedition presses forward, but only find hostile Indians.

1541 (December)  --  at the River Napo, a ship under the command of Francisco de Orellana (and accompanied by Carvajal) gets separated from the main expedition.  Having reached the point of confluence of the Napo and Amazon, Orellana resolves to abandon his brigantine to the course of the river. Carvajal and another member of the expedition, Sánchez de Vargas, protest against this and Orellana promptly lands them. They are found later by Pizarro and his men wandering in the wilderness.

1542 (August)  --  Orellana actually reaches the mouth of the Amazon River. 

1542 -- The expedition returns to Quito with only eighty survivors of the original four hundred.

Orellana died on a subsequent voyage down the Amazon. Today's Ecuadorian province of Orellana is named for him. 

Carvajal is sent to the mission of Tucuman, where for several years he labors zealously for the conversion of the native tribes. He is elected to the office of provincial and spends about four years in organizing and extending the province and founding new convents.

1565 -- chosen to represent the province of Peru at Rome, but never actually goes to Rome.

1584 -- dies at Lima, Peru.



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