Thursday, March 19, 2009

"Cobra Verde" (director: Werner Herzog)

Ah, I am more and more seeing why Herzog is considered a visual genius. His eye for natural landscapes is arresting, and always something to behold. And his innate sense of connection to nature and spirituality (not to be confused with dogmatic belief systems) makes him a fascinating character, to say the least. This 1987 flick is truly epic, and on the basis of imagery alone, it's a work of art. But the story and acting aren't anything to sneeze at, either.
Starring Klaus Kinski as role of 'Cobra Verde' - a lawless loner/outlaw who is hired by the rich boss of a Brazilian sugar cane plantation to oversee the slaves in the fields and in the production. Well, maverick (damned if that word's not been bastardized of late, but fuggit) Cobra manages to lecherously enough make all three of his boss's young daughters pregnant. Subsequently, in lieu of being killed for his indiscretions, he's exiled to Africa, under the pretense of bringing back more slaves. To the plantation mogul's surprise, Cobra survives the fierce and cut-throat (and, not surprisingly, given the circumstances, unfriendly to the white man) culture and manages to carve out a life amongst the tribal locals.
His good luck eventually gets the best of him, as he's used as a pawn between warring kings. Kinski is terrific as the slightly mad protagonist who's not so much likeable as he is magnetic. His hedonism and selfishness gets the best of him, and the final scenes, of Cobra's lonely passing, is highlighted by the presence of a surreal deformed cripple who seems to show us that he is the more divine/fortunate one, somehow. Rich visuals, grand scenery of an epic scope, and the unhinged Kinski make this one very worthy of attention. And the soundtrack by the wonderful Popol Vuh is splendiferous, even. Viva Werner! !

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