Werner Herzog III: Portraying Passionate Rage and Indomitable Spirit of Man

Some people rage like lunatic for power and some have an insane passionate longing to make an impossible dream come true. We all are dreamers and losers. But some souls have a rare spirit to turn impossible circumstances around and conquer their dreams at any inconceivable cost. Their ambition drives them and makes them push even the limits of sanity and insanity.

Werner Herzog’s two films Aguirre, The Wrath of God and Fitzcarraldo truly portray the indomitable spirit of man. Aguirre is driven by hunger of power, wealth and urge to control elusive El Dorado kingdom, while Fitzcarraldo is driven by a dream to bring opera into the jungles of Peru by building an opera house in his city. These two films, tales of two men driven by their ambition, passion and dreams have many parallels. Their obsession is pitted against the difficult Amazon River and jungles of Peru which they must navigate to realize their dreams. Do these two men reach their goals or does the Nature have the last say?

Herzog himself seems to have a mad dream of portraying rage and passion of man and he does it skillfully. These two films are true masterpieces on the hidden insane urge and strength of man. But the tale of Herzog making these two films in the deep jungles of Peru and on the Amazon itself is a greater commentary on the creative passion of the man. At one point it seems he even pointed gun to the head of Klaus Kinski. He lost some members of crew too. He had to abandon Fitzcarraldo twice after filming it with two different actors before Klaus Kinski stepped in and made it into yet another masterpiece of Werner Herzog. They did carry a streamer over the mountains.

Klaus Kinski, the biggest fiend of Herzog, plays the major role in both the films. He simply goes under the skin of Aguirre and Fitzcarraldo brings them alive as two distinct characters. One is brutal Aguirre who kills and drives his men and even his own loving daughter to the extremes which they can’t eventually survive. Aguirre becomes the wrath of god personified and brings destruction. Aguirre is shown abandoned and doomed on raft with a bunch of monkeys. El Dorado remains elusive dream. But Aguirre’s insane hope remains intact since it has no roots in reality.

The other man Klaus Kinski portrayed flawlessly is Fitzcarraldo who is in love with soulful operas and to build his dream opera house he is willing to carry a heavy steamer over the mountains to make money out of rubber plantations. He is willing to conquer all adversities for that one single dream. When it becomes impossible to make that dream come true, he sails while playing opera on his boat. He does bring sounds of opera to the jungles, rivers and people of Peru.

Dreams and passions are never easy to realize but effort and will to actually move mountains is often lacking too. Herzog dares to navigate the darkest of terrains of human soul to portray the madness imprisoned in human beings.

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