Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

When Monkeys Herald Death

May 20th, 2009 · 6 Comments

We’re gone for the day’s remainder, crashing on a Wired deadline. So we’ll leave you with the clip above from Werner Herzog’s classic Aguirre, The Wrath of God, which recently re-blew our collective mind. The final shot, in which the camera circles around the megalomaniacal conquistador’s monkey-infested raft? Beyond brilliant.

Read about the real Lope de Aguirre here. Turns out he was a bit more successful than Herzog gave him credit for.


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6 Comments so far ↓

  • Jordan

    There’s a really good essay about the various searches for El Dorado in the book “The Aztec Treasure House” by Evan S. Connell. The rest of the essays about exploration, both geographic and scientific, are very, very good. Though the one about a couple of guys in Antarctica who get lost while looking for penguin eggs is not for the faint of heart. By the same token, it does provide a very clear example of why it’s a bad idea to eat husky liver.

  • Gramsci

    I wonder how well those monkeys survived after Herzog released them into the jungle:

    I also wish I had world enough and time to mash-in the Jesus Christus Erloeser meltdown with these shots, or else produce a Jesus scene after the model of Aguirre (demon monkeys crawling on the cross, a circling shot of Golgotha). “I will become one with my own Father, and we shall start the pure race of the saved.” OK, back to writing boring book…

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    @Jordan: Thanks for the rec, my man. Just added it to my to-read queue. Having endured the skinning-alive scene in “Wind-Up Bird Chronicle,” I think I can stomach anything.

    Husky liver reference made me remember how traumatized I was by the “Empire Strikes Back” scene where Han Solo slices open the Ton-Ton and stuffs Luke inside…

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    @Gramsci: Wow, that Wikipedia article contains all sorts of crazy. Best anecdote:

    “Herzog wrote the screenplay ‘in a frenzy,’ which he completed in only two and a half days. Much of the script was written during a 200-mile (320 km) bus trip with Herzog’s football team. During the bus trip, his teammates got drunk after winning a game and one of them subsequently vomited on several pages of Herzog’s manuscript, which he immediately tossed out the window. Herzog claims he can’t remember what he wrote on these pages.”

    He wrote that movie in less than three days?!?! We are not worthy, we are not worthy…

  • Gramsci

    Don’t think about that, MK. Every screenplay has its own species-specific gestation time. Footballers on a bus don’t compare to kids (except for the vomiting).
    Like David Lynch says, all you can do is be home when the ideas come calling…

    I wonder if Ron Howard ever snatched 400 monkeys at an airport. Herzog would just ruin a story-swapping gathering of directors, wouldn’t he? “I’m sorry, Frank, you were saying something about the jungle? Well, funny you should mention that…”

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    @Gramsci: Herzog eats guys like Howard for breakfast.