Aguirre, the Wrath of God

How to explain Klaus Kinski to Americans unfamiliar with the dead German actor? Think of him as a kind of Teutonic Dennis Hopper—only crazier. He’s probably best known for Werner Herzog’s 1972 Aguirre, the Wrath of God, in which he plays a fanatical Spanish conquistador running amok in virgin South America. In other words, it’s the role Kinski (1926-1991) was born to play. Obsessed with gold, ruthless with his men, contemptuous of the natives, oblivious to the grandeur of Peru and the Amazon basin, Aguirre is like the evil counterpart to Lewis and Clark—discovery and pillaging are synonymous for him; seeing is stealing. For Herzog, the movie is an indictment of rapacious European colonialism, the West’s savagery contrasted with unspoiled “primitive” idyll. It’s a place where our supposedly advanced culture of iron and steel is rusted and defeated by the implacable jungle. (NR) BRIAN MILLER

Sept. 10-16, 7 & 9 p.m.; Sat., Sept. 11, 5 p.m.; Sun., Sept. 12, 5 p.m., 2010

 
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