Sunday, May 16, 2010

Review: Cobra Verde (1987)

This is Herzog's funniest film - it's a pity it isn't better. There are great moments here and there - the human telegraph pole is mesmerising, and I have never seen Kinski perform more insanely than he does here. But on the whole, it just isn't that great. It isn't bad, but compared to Herzog's other Kinski collaberations, it isn't really up to snuff.

I think a lot of the problem is that the film starts so poorly. The first few scenes have this weird structure, where Kinski goes somewhere, has a weird (but not in a good way) conversation with someone who is overacting horribly, then leaves. This pretty much goes on until he gets to Africa, where the film actually becomes good. It still doesn't become great, but it becomes good.

One thing I did really like about the film when it got to Africa was the implication that a leader pretty much has to be insane. We encounter the king of village, who has a joint leadership with the "Bush King," who is imaginary - the non-imaginary king declares that Kinski poisoned his greyhound, and so must be killed. After every single one of his insane pronouncements, all the members of the village cheer - one gets the feeling that if they don't, they'll probably be killed along with Kinski.

An uprising is being organised to stop the destruction that will inevitably come from the madness, with the king's nephew to seize power. The only problem is, that the king's nephew is even crazier than the king himself - his eyes bulge out of his head as if he didn't know he could close them. His incomprehensible declarations are even more bizarre than his uncle's.

And the other candidate for power, is Klaus Kinski. An actor who never played a sane person in his life, and who apparently refused to do anything but yell and scream at everyone. To be in a position of power, according to Cobra Verde, you must be out of your mind.

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