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Cobra Verde (DVD)

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1 Review
  • Good acting and visual flair
  • Diffuse and not very involving
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      01.06.2014 10:24
      Very helpful
      (Rating)

      Advantages

      • "Good acting and visual flair"

      Disadvantages

      • "Diffuse and not very involving"

      A somewhat soggy final hurrah for Klaus Kinski with Werner Herzog

      The final film Klaus Kinski made with Werner Herzog tells of the infamous bandit Cobra Verde (Kinski), who is sent by a wealthy Portugese sugar baron to West Africa to secure the continuation of the slave trade. Despite being a near suicidal mission, against all odds Verde succeeds in his negotiations and begins operating the business, but the fickle king of the area (played by the actual ruler of the Ghanaian village of Nsein, Nana Agyefi Kwame II) soon ends up sentencing him and his partner Taparica (King Ampaw) to death anyway on bogus charges. However, as the king's nephew manages to save them, Verde joins the plot to attack the king instead and overthrow him with the help of an enormous army of native females Verde trains in exchange for his continued slave trading despite changing tides back in Portugal. Based on Bruce Chatwin's novel "The Viceroy of Ouidah," this 1987 film adaptation is well produced and features typically authentic attention to detail from the director, but ends up remaining a somewhat uninvolving adventure film, suffering from an episodic execution and an inconsistency in excitement that fails to gather enough momentum for each of its turns of plot to keep the audience's interest fully engaged. Kinski is fine, as usual, but once more his volatile personality made filming difficult, with cinematographer Thomas Mauch (a veteran Herzog collaborator from two other difficult Kinski films) actually quitting the production following the actor's abuse, leading to him being replaced by Czech Viktor Ruzicka. Even Herzog's own relationship with the star was starting to show cracks, making filming more uncomfortable than on their prior films, with Herzog primarily blaming Kinski's obsession of trying to bring to the screen what was to be his only directorial effort, a biopic on violinist Niccolo Paganini, which he claimed made the actor "too dark and disturbing," a major reason why he declined the offer to direct what was to become Kinski's last film before his death. The end result is not bad per se, but "Cobra Verde" most certainly doesn't reside anywhere in the same league as say "Aguirre" or "Fitzcarraldo," and its primary interest ultimately lies in this being the last of the legendary Herzog/Kinski collaborations. (c) berlioz 2014

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