Aguirre, the Wrath of God, 1972

Posted: January 19, 2011 in Uncategorized

This video is comprised of different scenes of Aguirre showing his wrath. The first part of the clip is when Aguirre says that if he wants, “the birds to drop dead from the trees” then they will. He then states that he is “the wrath of God”. Aguirre sincerely believes that he has the power, given by God himself, to be an almighty force. Whatever he desires, he will get, no matter what the consequences may be. Aguirre does not value a human being’s life at all and will end one’s life without any feeling of regret or sorrow. In another part of the clip, Aguirre says that his men “measure riches and gold” and that it is more important to measure “power and fame”. Once again, Aguirre desires to obtain supreme power of the world and will kill as many people as necessary to do so. The narrator even says that Aguirre deliberately leads his men into destruction as a way to bring him to the top. The less people he has to compete with to obtain sole power, the easier it will become for him.

One of the major themes of this movie is that an extreme desire to become a man of power and fame leads to disaster not only for oneself, but also for those people who are in one’s path of obtaining that authority. Throughout the film, the audience is able to learn about the personality of Don Lope de Aguirre and discovers the striking similarities between him and Adolf Hitler. Both men would kill as many people as they wanted in order to attain tyrannical power. In the film, Aguirre, the Wrath of God, the main character Aguirre shot two of his own men and even hung Don Pedro de Ursua, the man who was originally appointed as leader of the exploratory team. Unfortunately for these people, they lost their lives because they were in the way of Aguirre becoming the most powerful man in the world. Because they were in his path, disaster struck them in the most violent ways one could imagine. After Aguirre appointed himself leader (once Guzman and Ursua were dead), he lead his team into the jungle to fight the Indian village. All of his men and even his daughter were killed in the battle. Losing his own daughter really shows the catastrophes that occur when one man strives for such power. This theme is taken one step further in the final scenes as he is alone on the raft. At this point, Aguirre is losing his mind even more and his raft is overtaken by wild monkeys. He says he wants to marry his own daughter and find the “purest dynast the world has ever seen.” Aguirre once again says, “I am the Wrath of God”. All in all, due to his selfish ways and desire for power, his situation did not end the way he was hoping for.

 Aguirre and his team in the jungle

 Aguirre alone on the raft

 Overrun by monkeys

Another theme present in this movie relates to the immortality and avarice of the Catholic Church with Brother Gaspar de Carvajal as its stand-in. For example, in one scene and Indian couple who was posing no threat was rowing in the water and was taken on board on one of the rafts. Brother Gasper hands him a bible and tells him it contains the Word of God and he puts it to his ear. Brother Gasper then stabs the man with his sword as the woman is sobbing and says, “These natives are hard to convert”. Later on in the film, Brother Gasper exhibits avarice speaking of finding a gold cross in El Dorado to replace his silver one.  Finally, the most shocking part of Brother Gasper’s behavior was when he decided to side with Aguirre and approved of his actions because of his belief that, “the church always stands with the strong”. What he means is that the Church maintains and extends its power by allying itself with the most powerful political elements, regardless of any moral considerations.

 Brother Gasper

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