It’s Christmas Day in 1560, and a group of Spanish conquistadors descends from the Incan Highlands in search of El Dorado, the “lost city of gold” — a legend invented by the Incans as a deterrent. By New Year’s Eve, provisions are low and a scout mission is sent ahead, ordered to return to camp within a week with word of what lies ahead, or be considered lost. Facing the base conditions of the Amazon, nature — as director Werner Herzog has noted — always hits back, and mercurial second-in-command officer Don Lope de Aguirre (Klaus Kinski) becomes consumed with visions of domination and leads his army on a doomed quest into oblivion.
The musical score by progressive German band Popol Vuh — the first of many collaborations between the band and director — sets the tone, leading man Klaus Kinski brings the unhinged, white-hot fury, and director Werner Herzog shapes the madness into a lasting epic of mythological status — and a pocket-sized predecessor to the likes of APOCALYPSE NOW, PREDATOR, and so on.
“Not just a great movie but an essential one.” —J. Hoberman, Village Voice “A splendid and haunting work.” —Vincent Canby, New York Times (1977) “One of the great haunting visions of the cinema.” —Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times