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Movie Review: Aguirre The Wrath Of God

Aguirre, the Wrath of God is a German film (1972) that was directed by Werner Herzog. The movie follows the story of a group of Spanish colonizers on a twisted path to find El Dorado for the Spanish Monarchy. El Dorado is a city that was presumed in history to have many riches, often in other work referred to as “The City of Gold”. Unlike other films that portray journeys to the coveted city, like the DreamWorks classic “The Road to El Dorado”, this piece chooses to exploit the true nature of the Spaniards at that time.
As aforementioned, the film is accurate in it’s portrayal of violence and treachery. From what the Library of Congress exhibit and our readings taught me about Cortes’, it seems to be undisputed that he poorly treated the Mexica.
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There are quite a few advantages and disadvantages when considering using film as a depicter of the past. One of the biggest advantages of film is its ability to provide visual representation for any situation. Especially when it comes to history, sometimes words do not do the situation justice. For example, the treatment of slaves is widely recognized as being cruel. However, movie possess the ability to show you the cruelty and make you understand as it did in this movie. They also allow you to understand the harshness of conditions. The words “a rough river” would not measure up to seeing the viciousness and depth of the real thing in this movie. The movies allow it to be more real. Due to the nature of movies, there are some large disadvantages to using film as a medium for historical portrayal. Movies tend to play up certain character traits or moments in time to further the plotline. The destructiveness and greed of certain characters in this movie, like Aguirre, was certainly exaggerated. These exaggerations often over dramatize the situation, which as a filmmaker is not necessarily a bad thing. In a historical drama, as opposed to a documentary, you have the unsung responsibility to keep the audience interested and entertained. Therefore, any character trait must be consistent and explicit throughout the entire film, it cannot be a one scene encounter. The over-dramatization of moments is prevalent in movies, as well. In real life, the main character is not the only one who lives in the end. The odds of Aguirre being the only one alive by the end of the movie are slim to none, when the rest of the group was being killed off one by one. It’s a plot convenience and a message to the audience if he stays alive, but it’s not reality. This is something only movies can get away

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