5 Films That Make You Feel Smart

Aguirre, Wrath of God (1972, Werner Herzog)

Herzog’s tale of the Spanish explorer Gonzalo Pizzaro searching for the fabled seven cities of gold in Peru was based on the real diaries of a priest who was along for the ride. Herzog is infamous for his working methods (in Fitzcarraldo, he actually had his crew and local South Americans haul a huge boat over a mountain), his impressive on-location filmmaking, and his ironic sense of humor (in a characteristic gesture, he claimed that he never saw the original Bad Lieutenant when his remake was released). Klaus Kinski, the leading man in Aguirre, was notorious for his zealous dedication to roles to the point of never getting out of character and a rather curious relationship with Herzog. You just seem smart if you talk about Herzog; appreciating his work calls for a sense of humor, a refined aesthetic sensibility, and a keen sense of irony.

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