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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Aguirre, Wrath of God aka Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes [Blu-ray]

 

(Werner Herzog, 1972)

 

Limited Edition Steelbook case:

Herzog Blu-ray Boxset, which includes Aguirre, is being released July 21st, 2014:

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Werner Herzog Filmproduktion

Video: BFI

 

Disc:

Region: 'B' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:34:26.457

Disc Size: 48,537,239,055 bytes

Feature Size: 28,297,424,448 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.99 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Limited Steelbook Blu-ray case

Release date: May 19th, 2014

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 246 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

LPCM Audio German 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
DTS-HD Master Audio German 3025 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3025 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
English version:

LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), none

 

Extras:

Feature-length audio commentary with Werner Herzog for both Aguirre, Wrath of God and Fata Morgana

Original theatrical trailer (3:19 in 1080P)
Stills gallery (2:08)
The Unprecedented Defence of the Fortress Deutschkreuz (1967, 15:30 in 1080P): symbolic drama about four young men hiding from an imagined enemy
Last Words (1968, 13:15 in 1080P): short film about the last man to leave a former leper colony
Precautions Against Fanatics (1969, 11:06 in 1080P): short satire about horse-racing enthusiasts
Fata Morgana (1971, 1:16:18 in 1080P): hallucinatory film exploring mirages and the Mayan creation myth with optional English narration and optional commentary
Fully illustrated booklet with a new essay by Laurie Johnston, full film credits and on-set photographs

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Shot entirely on location in the wild Amazonian jungle near Machu Picchu, Aguirre, Wrath of God stars the legendarily volatile Klaus Kinski (Nosferatu the Vampyre) as Don Lope de Aguirre, a power-crazed sixteenth-century explorer who leads a troupe of conquistadors on a doomed expedition in search of El Dorado, the fabled 'City of Gold'.

A visceral, ambitious exploration of megalomania and savage beauty, Aguirre remains one of Herzog's most brilliant achievements and one of German cinema's totemic masterpieces.

This specially designed, limited edition Steelbook is released ahead of an extensive Werner Herzog box set from the BFI, which will include newly remastered HD presentations of 17 of his greatest feature films and shorts.

 

 

 

The Film:

The most famed and well-regarded collaboration between New German Cinema director Werner Herzog and his frequent leading man, Klaus Kinski, this epic historical drama was legendary for the arduousness of its on-location filming and the convincing zealous obsession employed by Kinski in playing the title role. Exhausted and near to admitting failure in its quest for riches, the 1650-51 expedition of Spanish conquistador Gonzalo Pizarro (Alejandro Repulles) bogs down in the impenetrable jungles of Peru. As a last-ditch effort to locate treasure, Pizarro orders a party to scout ahead for signs of El Dorado, the fabled seven cities of gold. In command are a trio of nobles, Pedro de Ursua (Ruy Guerra), Fernando de Guzman (Peter Berling), and Lope de Aguirre (Kinski). Traveling by river raft, the explorers are besieged by hostile natives, disease, starvation and treacherous waters. Crazed with greed and mad with power, Aguirre takes over the enterprise, slaughtering any that oppose him. Nature and Aguirre's own unquenchable thirst for glory ultimately render him insane, in charge of nothing but a raft of corpses and chattering monkeys. Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes (1973) was based on the real-life journals of a priest, Brother Gaspar de Carvajal (played in the film by Del Negro), who accompanied Pizarro on his ill-fated mission.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

Werner Herzog’s mad masterpiece from 1972 still has its hallucinatory charge. Its star, Klaus Kinski, terrorised his fellow cast and crew, and in its own way ‘Aguirre’ has become cinema legend (director Herzog says the only way he could keep Kinski on the set after one outburst was to threaten to shoot them both). Made for buttons, it’s an awesome feat of filmmaking. We meet a doomed expedition of sixteenth-century Spanish soldiers and explorers in the rainforests of Peru hunting for the mythical of city of gold, El Dorado.

Kinski is Aguirre, a mutinous soldier who leads a troop of men downriver to annihilation. Aguirre (and Kinski, and Herzog?) is a man driven to insanity by megalomaniacal dreams of greatness. He’s got the haunted Christ-blue eyes of a saint but the savage leer of a monster who feasts on puppy’s hearts for breakfast. Watch it for Kinski and a succession of haunting images: a line of men winding down the sheer drop on the side of a mountain shrouded in mist; a boat surreally marooned on a tree; a raft of screeching monkeys.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Like BFI's Nosferatu the Vampyre Blu-ray Herzog fans get the option to buy the film individually in a Steelbook case prior to the large collection package. Now we have a seamlessly-branched transfer for the German and English versions. So the running time and bitrates are exactly the same. It looks very impressive. The 1080P supports solid contrast exhibiting healthy, rich black levels and some minor depth in the 1.33:1 frame. The beauty of the cinematography seems to, finally, be revealed in HD.  Colors are the most pleasing attribute. The flora and fauna greens are, nothing short of, brilliant.  It's also pristinely clean showcasing some hi-def detail and there are really no flaws with the rendering. This Blu-ray does a great job and provides an amazing video presentation.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Like Nosferatu the Vampyre BFI Blu-ray have the option of the original mono audio for both German and English version and an alternative 5.1 surround bump included as an option for the German. It has a few notable separations and is very robust through a DTS-HD Master track at 3025 kbps. The score is by Popol Vuh (Nosferatu, Cobra Verde) and adds another moody, dark layer to the atmosphere. The 'theme', written by Florian Fricke is notable and sounds very clean throughout with a touch of depth in the sounds of the water currents. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.

 

Extras :

BFI stack the Blu-ray which includes a feature-length audio commentary with Werner Herzog for both Aguirre, Wrath of God and the 1-1/4 hour Fata Morgana. We get some Herzog shorts (all in 1080P) - The Unprecedented Defence of the Fortress Deutschkreuz is a symbolic drama about four young men hiding from an imagined enemy running 15-minutes from 1967. Last Words is of similar length from the following year. It is a short film about the last man to leave a former leper colony. Precautions Against Fanatics is a 10-minute short satire about horse-racing enthusiasts from 1969. Notable is Fata Morgana - a hallucinatory film exploring mirages and the Mayan creation myth with optional English narration and optional commentary. It runs 1 1/4 hours from 1971. There is a trailer and stills gallery and the package includes a fully illustrated booklet with a new essay by Laurie Johnston, full film credits and on-set photographs.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Absolute masterpiece. Herzog always leans to true/realistic stories - often of a historical nature. The subtext of Aguirre, Wrath of God speaks to human frailties and the absurdities of of belief systems. This is one of Klaus Kinski's most memorable roles and a brilliant performance. The BFI Blu-ray provides an excellent a/v presentation with exceptional appreciated supplements - all in a grand steelbook case! This is easy to put in the 'must-own' and 'don't hesitate' category for digital librarians everywhere - either in this individual package or part of the larger Herzog Collection. Don't hesitate. 

Gary Tooze

May 6th, 2014

Limited Edition Steelbook case:

Herzog Blu-ray Boxset, which includes Aguirre, is being released July 21st, 2014:


 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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