Saturday, Feb.

12, 2005

Aguirre: The Wrath of God (1972)
By Richard Corliss

Directed By: Werner Herzog Screenplay: Werner Herzog Cast: Klaus Kinski, Helena Rojo
The 70s established Herzog as the most defiantly visionary of directors. In Every Man for Himself (And God Against All), Heart of Glass, Nosferatu the Vampire and his amazing documentary about the Guadeloupean volcano La Soufriere, he created worlds beyond civilization, whose ravishing beauty could drive intruders mad. Who better to play the overweening man, intoxicated to the point of insanity, than Klaus Kinski, Herzog's house demon? (Herzog made a fascinating documentary, the 1998 My Best Fiend, about his hectic relationship with the actor.) Aguirre is the prototype Herzog-Kinski collaboration, about a Spanish explorer who loses his mission, men and mind on an Amazon adventure. Answering only to the logic of Peru's natural beauty, the film seems an examination of madness from the inside. Sumptuous, spellbinding and immediately, eternally scary. Monday, May. 16, 1977

Cinema: Meditation on Madness
RICHARD SCHICKEL In 1560 a party of Spanish explorers, pursuing their curious national dream of El Dorado, are stopped by the fierce mountains and jungles of Peru. The commander detaches a smaller group to proceed down a rather forbidding river to see if they can discover some easy way out of this bad country. The leader of this party is a gentle spirit, dignified and impractical. To him there is nothing ridiculous in the sight of his men toiling along treacherous trails, weighted down by armor, struggling to transport an entirely useless cannon. He has brought his wife with him and his second in command's daughter. What begins as an obviously dangerous journey soon turns into a manifestly self-destructive one. The rafts built to navigate the river are inadequate to its currents. And then, of course, there are the Indians, always in the shadows, picking off stragglers. But the worst danger derives from the Spaniards'

who is last seen shouting his plan for the conquest of the entire continent to the indifferent jungle. which derives from a historical incident. Before long. any more than he insists on the absurdity of the activities he patiently. He does the audience the honor of allowing it to discover the blindnesses and obsessions. is German. he creates a government. as hundreds of marmosets swarm over his waterlogged raft. unemphatically records in a movie that unfolds slowly but never slackly. . on the obvious parallels between his material and modern issues. as most historical dramatists do. 35. He foments a mutiny. and it is clear that he was drawn to this story. places the one nobleman present in nominal charge of the expedition and. Aguirre is. a movie that makes a convincing claim to greatness. the Aguirre of the title. Director Werner Herzog. The most admirable thing about Aguirre may be the discipline with which Herzog tells his tale. is not something he insists on. however. It is a magnificent image of the will to power running mad. complete with constitution and courts. proceeds to tyrannize his ever dwindling band. because he sees in it a parable applicable to his country's recent past. He does not indulge himself in any comments on the action or insist. Well acted. gloriously photographed by Thomas Mauch. acting in that pliable gentleman's name. the sober lunacies he quietly lays out on the screen. most notably by Klaus Kinski in the title role. He declares independence from Spain and claim to the vast land he and his group are dreamily yet viciously floating through. and the most deluded of all is that second in command. no one is left but Aguirre. In the end. not to put too fine a point on it. But it is only one of a hundred such images distinguishing this singular and haunting film. That.delusions. starving as the Indians grow bolder.

"the kind of cinema that flows with the serenity and nobility of a big river"—the river of life as it is ordinarily lived. By the same token his actors act. begins with a slyly humorous description of how the young man (Soumitra Chatterjee) spends his can'tafford-salad days of bohemian genius in Calcutta's slums. in his love of life. not with the usual bombinations of Oriental drama. describes the hero's childhood in the innocence and violence of a village in Bengal. Then she dies in childbirth. His images are continuously beautiful but never obtrusive. and for a year they live a garret idyl in Calcutta. 1956. Apu throws his novel. they rise out of the story as naturally as thoughts rise out of the pool of Vishnu—there is nothing arty in Ray's art. 26. tells how he lost his father and left his mother in order to make himself a modern man. Part 3. began his trilogy with incredible strokes of beginner's luck. but he finds himself again in his relation to his son. Aparajito (The Unvanquished). said. and in order to save the bride (Sarmila Tagore*) from the curse that will fall upon her if she is not married at the appointed hour. one of the most vital and abundant movies ever made. 1960 The World of Apu (Edward Harrison) completes. Sep. As a piece of craftsmanship. He has superb control of his camera. Apu makes the noble gesture and marries her himself. called Father Panchali (The Lament of the Path). Satyajit Ray The story of a child growing to manhood in modern India. Cinema: The New Pictures. called Apur Sansar (The World of Apu). in alternations of suffering and joy. as another great master. Feb. The bridegroom proves to be insane. his career and almost his life away. in his duty to the future. But the moviemaker intended his trilogy ultimately to be seen and judged as a single immense discursive epic in the Indian tradition—as a modern Mahabharata. Based on a bestselling Bengali novel by Bibhuti Bannerji. Almost insane with grief. but as though the camera had found .The Apu Trilogy (1955. Director Ray. Each of the three lasts about an hour and 45 minutes and stands as a separate and complete cinema experience in its own right. 12. Part 2. but Ray's filmmaking is direct in manner. his tragedies large. Suddenly one day a college friend carts him off to a country wedding that has an unexpected and fateful conclusion. Part 1. To his amazement he falls in love with the girl. His triumphs are small. The World of Apu is the finest film of the three. simple in its means and profound in its impact. produced and directed as three separate pictures by a 39-year-old Calcutta film buff named Satyajit Ray (pronounced Sawt-yaw-jit Rye). the picture was written. It is. who had never turned a camera before he started shooting Father Panchali. 2005 Directed By: Satyajit Ray Screenplay: Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay (novel). Akira Kurosawa. 1959) By Richard Schickel Saturday. but he ends it with deliberate mastery of the medium.

000 CinemaScope De Luxe Color parody of an old-fashioned college musical. Taken as a whole. . High Time (20th Century-Fox) is a fast flashy funny 103-minute $3. as few characters in pictures do. real lives that swell to the skin with pain and poetry and sudden mother wit.them alone and simply living. He is the owner of a chain of 1. nevertheless comes off the screen as a lustily healthy young woman. . "what a fuss—about such a little thing!" The incident sets a standard that the rest of this bedpan farce from Britain rarely tries to rise above. it does not much matter—the audience needs a rest by that time anyway. and they live. . Nurse (Anglo-Amalgamated. it will probably seem sometimes to maunder in Oriental obscurities. And Director Blake Edwards runs the show with all sorts of technical razzle-dazzle: the wide-screen wipes are a clever touch. and if the last year somehow loses momentum. like a well-executed locomotive yell. who displays at least as much acting ability as Monday Wash—takes over with plenty of energy. and by a starlet known as Tuesday Weld. Ray might well reply that life itself usually takes the same route and reaches the same destination. to go the long way round to nowhere. by a sort of Elvis Presley with muscles called Fabian. "I'll do it myself if you don't mind. A younger generation—represented mainly by France's Nicole Maurey. the hurry-ups are corny but funny. Carry On. The first three years rush along. no!" the male patient sputters shyly to the two young nurses who propose to remove his drawers. that does not much matter either. each describing one of the four years of college. the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light. and if he cannot sing so well as he used to or act any better than he ever did. to moviegoers accustomed to the visual shorthand of Hollywood's clichés. Ray's film has the generosity and the prodigal variety of genius. if not much style. Bing's undergraduate experience is presented in four acts. "There now. essentially down to earth and up to tricks. It stars Bing Crosby—back on campus as a 51-year-old freshman. "Good heavens. and with Amazonian zest they pants the poor chap and dump him in the sack." one of them remarks. listening to his bride as she cheerfully makes breakfast. Bing gives it the old college try. released just in time to catch the back-to-school business. continues with a ceremony involving a suppository. Actor Chatterjee. at a relentlessly accelerating rate of rah-rah and haha. settles down to some steady vomiting. and some of the blackouts are just great. Director Ray reveals moreover an order of poetic insight and a gift of visual anecdote that combine to produce some astonishing effects. wakes up with a scene full of toilet-paper streamers. as a young man too gifted to be strong." And Actress Tagore. and this movie is obviously intended to be like life—not like other movies. In one scene the tenderness and bliss of a whole honeymoon are pressed into a moment when the young husband wakes in the same bed he had used as a bachelor and.433 restaurants who decides to let somebody else mind the store while he gets the education he could not afford as a boy. Governor Films).000. lifts in silent wonder from beside his pillow one of her fallen hairpins. though she looks as mysterious and lovely as an Apsaras. Nevertheless.'' They do mind. provides an unforgettable object of the Biblical lesson (Luke 16:8): ". The picture begins with a pubic shave.

the Bengalese poet who died in 1941. are expected to approach $10 million. Across the U. in fact. * A distant relation of Sir Rabindranath Tagore. Constable) that Anglo-Amalgamated plans to release in the U. it is still going strong. in Chicago (16 weeks). Produced for less than $250. in Dallas (15 weeks). Carry On. in Milwaukee (12 weeks). Nurse is just one of a series of sillies (Carry On. It is still going strong in Denver and St. is not yet.S. Gross earnings.000. moreover. it has already netted its distributors more than $1. and seems prepared to carry on indefinitely. Louis (17 weeks).S. Carry On. in Boston (16 weeks). Teacher.000 in film rentals alone. Carry On. but the phenomenal popularity of Carry On.000. the film last year made more money ($1.000) than any other picture exhibited in England. Nurse was thumbsed down as "one of those British jokes that nobody here will get. . Offered to Manhattan's pickity midtown exhibitors." So it opened in Los Angeles without benefit of New York reviews.400. and in international distribution it smashed house records from Stockholm to Singapore. cash across the counter. The end.. and will probably triple that total.The humor of these situations may largely be lost on people who have successfully completed their toilet training. after 27 weeks in the same theater. and there. Sergeant. Carry On. Nurse would suggest that they are not in the majority.

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