Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972) Script

After the conquest and plundering of the Inca empire by Spain the Indians invented the legend of El Dorado a land of gold, located in the swamps of the Amazon headwaters.

A large expedition of Spanish adventurers, led by Gonzalo Pizarro, set off from the Peruvian highlands in late 1560.

The only document to survive from this lost expedition is the diary of the monk Gaspar de Carvajal.

On Christmas Day 1560, we reached the last pass of the Andes and for the first time looked down at the legendary jungle.

In the morning I read mass, then we descended through the clouds.

AGUIRRE, WRATH OF GOD A film by Werner Herzog

No one can get down that river alive!

I tell you, we can do it!

From here it will be easier.

No. We're all going to go under.

Our Indian slaves are useless.

The changing climate kills them off like flies.

Most of them die of colds.

We don't even have time to give them a Christian burial.

Come on, move it!

Move, you pigs! Come on! Let's go!

Keep moving, we don't want to get stuck in the mud!

Son of a bitch!

You idiots! The sedan chair will get stuck!

This way!

Damned mud!

Watch it, you idiots!

Keep the barrel out of the water!

By the last day of the year, we were exhausted.

We camped near the river.

It can't go on like this, men.

The rations are almost finished.

The terrain is so difficult, we're almost at a standstill.

We cannot hope to reach a populated area for some time.

In view of the situation we're in

… I have changed my plans as follows:

Rafts will be built and manned by forty men.

These men will have the task

… of getting food and information about hostile Indians … and the location of El Dorado.

We have every reason to believe that both are near.

The expedition must return within one week by water or by land.

If it doesn't we have to assume it is lost and we have to march back the same way in the hope of reaching an area inhabited by Christians.

We hope, of course, that this will not happen as long as the Virgin Mary is with us.

After careful consideration, I have decided to make Don Pedro de Ursua commander of the expedition.

His mistress, Doña Inez de Atienza, will accompany him.

This is against my better judgement.

But she expressed her wish with such grace and firmness that I cannot refuse it.

Don Lope de Aguirre will be second-in-command.

A man who is well qualified for this task.

His daughter Flores will stay under his protection.

This, also, is against my better judgement.

At fifteen, she should have stayed in the care of the Holy Sisters.

As on all expeditions, the word of God must be brought to the pagans.

I hereby nominate Brother Gaspar de Carvajal for this task.

The remaining two hundred slaves will stay with my group.

The Royal House of Spain will be represented by the brave nobleman, Don Fernando de Guzmán who proved his courage 10 years ago at the storming of the fortress of Saxahuaman.

Some of the best warriors will form this group but those not chosen shouldn't feel rejected.

I declare all this in the form of a document to be submitted for approval to the Council of the Indies.

Herewith I append my signature.

Four days later, on January fourth, we set out.

We asked God to be with us.

Watch the raft, the rapids are getting stronger!

Keep in the middle of the river!

The first raft got stuck in an eddy! They must get away from the rocks!

January sixth.

We finally reached shore and set up camp.

On the other side of the river, one of our rafts ran into an eddy.

We could not hear what they were yelling, and could not help.

How many are on the raft?

Seven and two Indians.

We must try to help the poor devils, Aguirre.

You are crazy!

We will not help them!

I'm still giving the orders.

Is that so?

We need long ropes and hooks. Further downstream, we'll be able to cross.

Once we're on the other side, we'll be able to get them out.

Take as many men as you need and hurry!

I wonder if Armando has reached the other side?

Those men must be getting sick. They're still going round in circles.

What is this? They're firing over there.

They're trying to signal us.

Maybe it's a battle?

There are only six.

The oarsmen and the seventh man have gone.

I find that strange.

Look, the oars are still there.

I'm sure there are still some Indians in this area.

We'd better go back to the camp.

Keep your eyes open!


Indians! Indians!

A prayer said here is not enough, Brother Carvajal.

I want to take these men back for a Christian burial.

You are right, my son, their souls will rest much better in consecrated ground.

It's the least we can do for these poor men who died so bravely.


Perucho, don't you think the cannon is getting a bit rusty?


You know very well who is responsible.

If Aguirre gets away with this, who knows what he'll do next?

Don't worry about that.

We really have other problems.

There are Indians everywhere.

The whole area is full of them and no one wants to die like the men on the raft.

If only we were out of this trouble.

We can't hope for that yet.

Don't be afraid.

Aguirre would never dare to rebel against the Spanish crown.

We are not in Castile, here.

Look what I've found for you.

This animal sleeps its whole life away.

It's never really awake.

Our rafts are gone.

The rafts are gone!

January eighth.

The river rose fifteen feet over night.

When will our misfortunes end?

If I remove your chains, will you run away?

Would you?

Stop, wait a minute, isn't that my pot?

What are you doing with my pot?

No, the wood is too heavy.

We'll take this one. I'm not taking one step further into this jungle.

What's going on?

We're making nails.

What for?

We need as many nails as possible.

What are you doing with this log?

Well, I'm carrying it from where I found it back to the camp.

Who gave that order?

Everyone here is collecting wood.

And iron.

What's going on here?

I have no idea.

Who gave the order to build rafts?

What does it all mean? Do you know, Inez?

Don't even ask. It's your father's fault.

If only it were all over.

Gentlemen, as your commander, I have decided

… to return to our main troop.

It's not my habit to retreat.

We have to march back, of course, because the current is too strong.

We need to get back within the time Pizarro ordered.

But that would be suicide because of the Indians.

Whatever the cost, we have to march back.

We must get back to Pizarro!

To hell with Pizarro!

I say we can't accomplish our task this way.

And I say, we can conquer without Pizarro!

That's what we gathered logs and iron for, to build a raft.

Do you remember Hernando Cortez?

Bound for Mexico, he was ordered to return but he just went on!

Silence, Aguirre!

He ignored the orders and conquered Mexico!

Silence, everyone!

That's how he became rich and famous.

Be quiet!

Because he disobeyed!

Put him in chains!

Stop it, now!

I follow Ursua. Kill him!

Anyone else?

What do you think will happen now?

What if there are waterfalls downstream?

Who cares, as long as we get closer to El Dorado.

Have you seen Ursua clenching his fist?

He must have something in it.

I think they will kill him.

Would you have the courage to help him?

You're the only one who can help us.

I know he will kill Ursua and Armando.

He will finish what he has started.

You are my last hope.

Thou lettest man flow on like a river and Thy years know no end.

As for man, his days are as grass

… as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.

For the wind passeth over it and it is gone, and the place thereof shall know it no more.

You know, my child for the good of our Lord the Church was always on the side of the strong.

I would like to have you on our side.

We need men like you.

You should think about it

but not too long.

Well, gentlemen we've got rid of the troublemakers.

Now we need a leader.

For me, the choice is clear.

We should elect the biggest and strongest nobleman we have.

What, me? Yes, you.

Well, gentlemen.

I am making a proposal to elect Guzmán.

Who else is for him?

I propose that Don Lope de Aguirre remain second-in-command!

Who's in favour?

Plagues have come over my people, earthquakes and floods but what the Spaniards did to us is much worse.

They gave me the name Balthasar, but my real name is Runo Rimac.

What does that mean? Runo Rimac.

It means: He who speaks. I was a prince in this land.

No one was allowed to look directly into my eyes.

But now I'm in chains, like my people and I must bow my head.

Almost everything was taken from us. I can't do anything, I'm powerless.

But I am also sorry for you because I know there is no escape from this jungle.

How is Ursua?

Because of our mutiny, we must make our situation clear.

Read this document.

Caesarian King, by the grace of God, through our Holy Mother the Roman Church, Philip the Second of Castile.

We, the undersigned, have until yesterday the seventh day of the year of our Lord 1561 regarded ourselves as your servants and subjects.

We are now more than 200 miles from your servant, Gonzalo Pizarro.

Fate, God's help and the work of our hands have carried us down a river.

A river the natives call Huallaga, in search of a new land of gold.

We have decided to put an end to the quirks of fate.

We are forging history, and no fruits of this earth shall henceforth be shared.

We'll fight to the death.

Our hands shall perish and our tongues dry up if this is not so.

The House of Habsburg is overthrown.

And you, Philip the Second, are dethroned.

By dint of this declaration, be you annihilated.

In your place we proclaim the nobleman from Seville, Don Fernando de Guzmán as Emperor of El Dorado.

Flee from hence, O King!

And may God bless your soul.

Fortune smiles on the brave and spits on the coward.

Let's sever our ties with Spain and crown Don Fernando de Guzmán Emperor of El Dorado.

Do you call this a throne?

What is a throne but a plank covered with velvet, Your Majesty?

He must have dragged himself along.

That's no arrow wound, that was a sword thrust.

He must have tried to stop him.

January tenth.

Armando escaped from his prison.

The man who went on guard duty at three o'clock was murdered.

It was one of his men. While Ursua is alive you'll never be safe!

What can I do about it?

Kill him.

While I'm Emperor, law will prevail.

No killings without a trial.

Then try him and then kill him!

But it must be a public trial.

He still has sympathisers.

Perucho, to the witness stand!

What did you get out of Ursua?


Three men couldn't open his fist. He must have something in it.

We'd have to chop his hand off to get at it.

He said nothing, except some nonsense.

But last night he had visitors.

The whole story reeks of conspiracy.

Balthasar, ask him if it's true that he received money from Ursua.

Yes, it's true.

It was the oarsmen's pay.

Next witness!

Okello, is it true that you also received money from Ursua?

I was Pizarro's slave. Then he gave me away for this expedition because he thought, if the Indians are scared of a horse they'll be terrified of a black man.

Well, I don't know why, but sometimes Ursua gave me money.

What does the defendant have to say?

I want to speak.

In Spain I had many servants, and I paid them.

It is only fair to give them money here as well … even if they are Indians.

Time will tell that Ursua is right.

We understand your confusion, my child. You are excused.

The jury, after having heard all testimonies finds the defendant guilty of treason.

My unpleasant duty … as President of the first court of Your Highness, Don Fernando is to sentence Pedro de Ursua to death by hanging.

I confirm the verdict.

But since it is the anniversary of the last Moor leaving Spain

… I will grant clemency.

His life will be spared, but he forfeits all rights as a citizen of El Dorado.

Half of his wealth will go to the Church.

The other half will be divided among my best soldiers.

January twelfth.

In the morning we set out with a new raft.

Ursua is still alive but he refuses to speak.

Look, a fire!

At noon we saw a great fire.

Steer closer to the shore!

Load your muskets.

I can't see anyone.

Be careful, men! It could be an ambush.

Strip the negro, go on!

Fearing an ambush, we stripped the negro slave, to frighten the Indians.

Go! Run!

Go on! Go, I said!

Drive him in front of us!

Get away from the food!

Look out for Indians!

Are you crazy?

Take your weapons!

Look at that. It was one of our men.

Where does this come from?

And this here?

For heaven's sake, cannibals!

The discovery of cannibals around us was so disturbing that we hastily left this dreadful place.

January twentieth.

The mountains are now behind us and the land is flat.

The roof Aguirre had us build protects us against the scorching sun.

The river is sluggish and we're slowly coming to a halt.

What's this? Are you giving him a gun?

Aguirre, I know that you plan to do something to Ursua!

There's no doubt in my mind.

And God will punish you for that!

Get out of my way!

Are you all right, little one?

What's happening? You can't hear a thing.

It's suddenly so quiet.

Yes, not a sound.

Shh, so we can hear.

The gunpowder! It's on fire!

Out of the way! It's going to blow up!

Grab the pole!

Help me pull the Emperor onto the raft!

Here, so he can hold on to it.

Damned horse nothing but trouble!

What's wrong with him?

He's dead.

Look how short the arrow is.


It must belong to a dwarf.

Fire! Make some noise, quickly! What are we to aim at?

Just shoot, you asshole!



Come, play something for the men.

Look, isn't that a canoe? Where?

Over there under those trees, coming towards us.

Keep the raft mid-stream. It could be a trap.

January twenty-fourth.

For the first time, we saw two of the savages.

They seemed to be trusting.

Pull the boat close.

I have the man. Hold him!

And I have the woman.

Look, there's a fish!

What did he say?

He says he's from the Yagua Tribe.

He knows from his ancestors that one day, the Sons of the Sun would arrive from afar, through great perils.

The strangers would come with thunder produced from tubes.

They've waited a long time for the coming of the Sons of the Sun.

For here on this river, God never finished His Creation.

Look, gold! Where did you get that?


Gold! Ask him where he got it from.

Ask him where El Dorado is.

Where does this gold come from?

What did he say?

Has this savage ever heard of our saviour Jesus Christ and of our mission and the True Word of God?

This is a Bible. It contains the Word of God that we preach to bring light into the darkness of their world.

Does he understand at all that this book contains the Word of God?

Take it in your hand, my son.

He says it doesn't talk. Kill him for this blasphemy!

It is a tough business.

These savages are hard to convert.

It won't be much longer.

El Dorado might be only a few days away.

No more rust on the cannon.

We will shoot our enemies with golden bullets.

And you, Okello, will serve my food on golden platters.

And all of us will gain something.

Governorships provinces and women.

And perhaps I'll even be free.

Let's not forget the most important part of our mission

… to spread the Word of God to the savages.

I'm sure you'd like a golden cross studded with jewels, Carvajal instead of the silver one you lost.

All the land to our left and all the land to our right now belongs to us.

I solemnly and formally take possession of all this land.

Our country is already six times larger than Spain and every day we drift makes it bigger.

Have you seen any solid ground lately that would support your weight?

Okello, it lacks salt!

Fish and fruit we can find now and then but we've been out of salt for a while.

We're down to counting our last grains of corn.

Hold the horse! The horse has cut loose!

Take the reins! Watch out!

Watch that it doesn't jump overboard!

Damn, get that horse away from me! Get rid of it!

Throw that damned beast off the raft!

Go on! Go for a swim!

It wants to get back on board. Go away!

I think he's a dead man.

In Mexico, I saw an army of Indians flee at the sight of one single horse.

And besides, we could have eaten meat for a week.

Don't worry, little one, the horse will be all right.

Oh, my God, the Emperor!

The Emperor is dead!

After our Emperor's death, the fate of Ursua was sealed.

Next morning, a few soldiers took him away and he never came back.

Little mother, two by two wafts the wind on my hair.

What are they shouting?

They're shouting, "Meat is floating by."


Set the village on fire!

Keep shooting, it'll scare them!

Don't go into the jungle!



I haven't had salt for a month!

She has disappeared without trace. We couldn't find her anywhere.

We have not seen any Indians either.

Let's march back to Pizarro.

Two men, more or less, it won't matter to him.

I am sick of it. I'm leaving tonight.

If I march at night, the Indians won't catch me.

In the day, I will hide. I will get back to Pizarro.

We followed her tracks half a mile into the jungle, then we lost them.

She simply vanished!

Then one of the men panicked because of the silence which always comes just before someone gets killed.

I'd rather join the Indians, than stay with this madman.

That man is a head taller than me.

That may change.

I'll explain my plan. I have counted the river bends.

I've drawn a map in the sand.

We need about a day for each bend.

One, two … three, four, five six, seven eight nine


I am the great traitor. There can be no greater!

Whoever even thinks about deserting will be cut into 198 pieces!

And then trampled upon until you can paint the walls with him.

Whoever eats one grain too many or drinks one drop of water too many will be locked up for 155 years!

If I, Aguirre, want the birds to drop dead from the trees the birds will drop dead from the trees.

I am the Wrath of God!

The earth I walk upon sees me and quakes!

But whoever follows me and the river will win untold riches.

But whoever deserts …

Get away from the tree! Go to mid-stream!

Hey, give me a pole! Watch out, the roof!

Watch out, the sedan chair is falling!


Over there.

The long arrows are becoming fashionable.

Indians! Where? I don't see any.

Make noise! I'd better get out of here.

February first.

The men's morale is at a low point. I spoke with Aguirre.

Things are not turning out as we expected.

We see nothing but hunger and death.

We lose men, but we never see the enemy.

Even El Dorado was never more than an illusion.

Mexico was no illusion!

If we turn back now, others will come.

And they will succeed!

And we'll remain a failure!

Even if this land only consists of trees and water we will conquer it!

And it'll be milked dry by those who follow us.

My men measure wealth in gold.

It is more.

It is power and fame.

I despise them for it.

I am sure Aguirre is leading us to destruction.

I almost feel he does it deliberately.

We can't even get ashore, since the river has flooded the jungle for miles.

February twenty-second.

The suffering is dreadful.

Most men have fever and hallucinations.

Hardly anyone can stand upright.

The soldier Justo Gonzales drank my ink, thinking it was medicine.

I can no longer write.

We are drifting in circles.

I see a ship with sails in a tall tree and from the stern hangs a canoe.

The ship is in your imagination.

No floodwaters could rise this high.

We all have the fever.

It is only a mirage.

These things happen when people are too exhausted.

Shut up, monk!

We'll get that ship! It is real! We'll sail to the Atlantic in it.

No, Lope de Aguirre, I won't go with you. We are weak and hungry.

That is no ship. That is no forest.

That is no arrow.

We just imagine the arrows, because we fear them.

These arrows are real, take cover!

This arrow can't harm me.

This is not rain.

Monk, do not forget to pray, lest it turn out badly

with God.

When we reach the sea we will build a bigger ship sail north and take Trinidad from the Spanish crown.

From there we'll sail on and take Mexico from Cortez.

What great treachery this will be!

Then, all of New Spain will be in our hands and we'll stage history as others stage plays.

I, the Wrath of God will marry my own daughter and with her I will found the purest dynasty the earth has ever seen.

Together we shall rule this entire continent.

We will endure.

I am the Wrath of God!

Who else is with me?