Those 70s Movies (Part One)

Aguirre, Wrath of God (1972) 

director : Werner Herzog. starring : Klaus Kinski.

Herzog and Kinski together produced a body of work which is the jewel of the flourishing 1970s German cinema (whatever happened to the German film industry ?). They made great films but “Aguirre” is the greatest of them. A film about power, hierarchy, obsession, the veneer of civilization & culture, greed & madness.  Filmed on location in South America the beauty, power & wildness of Nature is combined with an almost verisimilitude of the conquistador experience.

From the opening shot, showing the painstakingly slow progress of the expedition across the alien Andes, the cinematography continues to stun. The scenes on the rafts seem impossible to be choreographed yet perfectly mirror the increasing loss of control of the protagonists. The descent of Aguirre is a more measured & nuanced performance by Kinski than other Herzog movies in which he appeared. I have seen this film within the past year. I wondered if it retained it’s naturalness, it’s directness of exposition which i found awe-inspiring & unique. No worries, great art has a permanence that time has little affect upon.

The soundtrack, by Popol Vuh, must be mentioned. It is their first of many for Herzog & ranks with any of the outstanding soundtracks in cinema. I have added the German trailer for the movie because the idea of a dubbed Klaus Kinski is just wrong. Don’t worry if you cannot understand the dialogue, the audacity & originality of the filming will make you want to see more.



Amarcord (1973)

director: Federico Fellini.

A film about Fellini’s own memories of childhood which combines truth and it’s imagined form so accurately, poignantly & hilariously that it becomes universal. A series of inter-connected vignettes about growing up in Rimini in the 1930s with no plot,  “Amarcord” is not only the first on my list of films of the 70s but is, in my opinion, the masterpiece of cinema. The film contains all the elements which we have come to call “Felliniesque”. There are set pieces which are tours de force, grotesques, images which are, once seen, indelible. It is the energy & the ebullience of the story-telling which sets this film apart from others.

A peacock in the snow. The all-enveloping tobacconist. The voluptuous town whore. The arrival in the bay of an awe-inspiring ocean liner (the blind man asking for more descriptive detail) are all unforgettable. Personally the family outing where the mad, sexually frustrated uncle climbs a tree to shout of his need is imagination transferred to celluloid as perfectly as has ever been achieved. It is the family in the film which provides the core to the film. In turn exuberant, tragic and human. Fellini, aided by his cinematographer, Guiseppe Rotunno & his composer, Nino Rota, have created a work where sentiment, flamboyance and nostalgia (often used as criticisms of the director) are integrated into life in a way that they really are. This is a film with heart. A heart which is absolutely in the right place. Not since “La Strada” had he charmed us so much with his characters.

No trailer is needed for this film. If you read this and you are interested in films then grab the first copy you see.

Federico Fellini Picture