From 'A Film Legacy' Boxed Set Cobra Verde
Directed by Werner Herzog
Released on 1987
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Find it at GEMM
From 'A Film Legacy' Boxed Set cover
[high resolution scan]

T his is the last of the Herzog/Kinski films (Aguirre, Nosferatu, Woyzeck and Fitzcarraldo are the others). This time, the Popol Vuh soundtrack gets lost amid the madness of Kinski and the epic landscapes of Herzog; maybe that’s always been the case (I don’t recall the music for Nosferatu and Fitzcarraldo anymore except for the latter’s operatic extractions). I was nonplussed by this film. While it’s clearly an anti-slavery piece, its depiction of both the Brazilian and African cultures is condescending at best. And while Herzog again captures some lovely and haunting vistas of exotic locales, he avoids staging what could have been some of the most arresting (and admittedly complex) scenes. The drum major relates how everyone in the captured Brazilian fort was killed and tortured, but we see none of it, just some crabs scuttling on the floor. The army of topless Amazons that Kinski trains (in some kind of half-day How To Kill And Influence People seminar) overthrows the mad African king without a single blow being struck. The King abdicates his throne with barely a word; we’re told that he’ll be strangled later by his wives, and even Kinski seems cheated at the news. The whole film is a cheat really; no one wins, no one loses, we’re left with five minutes of what looks like documentary footage of a young girls’ choir (again topless, lest I leave this film feeling good about anything) and what appears to be an impromptu performance from Kinski trying to pull a huge boat into the water before a poor man bent into the shape of a dog chases him on the beach (the proxy ghost of his slavetrading past). I guess if you were really high, the rich imagery and Kinski’s stark, intense performance would resonate more deeply. And Adam Sandler’s films would be funny. But in the world of the sober living, let Cobra Verde pass. Of minor interest, the title actually translates as “Green Snake” not “Green Cobra.” I don’t know which green snake it refers too, although Kinksi does kick a python in the movie, asking the deep existential question: How many snakes could Klaus Kinski kick, if Klaus Kinski could kick snakes?

TRACK LISTING

  1. DER TOD DES COBRA VERDE
  2. NACHTS: SCHNEE
  3. DER MARKTPLATZ
  4. EINE ANDERE WELT
  5. GRAB DER MUTTER
  6. DIE SINGENDEN MADCHEN VON HO, ZIAVI
  7. SIEH NICHT UBERM MEER IST’S
  8. HAB MUT, BAS DASS DIE NACHT MIT RUH’ UND STILL KOMMT

    CD reissue bonus track
  9. OM MANI PADME HUM 4 (PIANO VERSION)

CREDITS

return to POPOL VUH discography

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
FRA 1987 Milan LP RC-340/FA-353 gatefold cover
AUST 1987 Milan CD 353  
US October 24, 2000 Anchor Bay DVD 11098  
US February 10, 2004 Anchor Bay 6DVD   repackaged as A FILM LEGACY
GER/NET April 28, 2006 SPV CDX 70262 w. bonus track

 

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