Plot: What’s it about?
Francisco Manoel da Silva (Klaus Kinski) is a well known and lavish thief, who runs his mouth a lot and always seem to be able to back up his words. He is known as Cobra Verde and while he is infamous, it turns out not everyone knows to avoid this treacherous man. In a rather strange twist, he ends up being hired on a sugar plantation and despite his ragged exterior and gun brandishing, his boss doesn’t expect much trouble. Francisco is to watch over the slaves and make sure they complete their tasks & remain in check. It seems to be turning out well enough, until the plantation boss discovers that Francisco has slept with and impregnated all of his daughters during his stay. This enrages him and as punishment, he sends Francisco to the African coast and informs him he is to reopen the slave trade there. This seems impossible, but Francisco manages to complete his mission and even time left over to organize a rebellion of female locals, which attempts to oust the king from his throne. He might be insane at times and unstable in most situations, but Francisco sure knows how to have a good time in the end.
If you want to see Klaus Kinski run wild and act like Satan himself has consumed him, Cobra Verde is a film you need to look into. We’re all used to seeing Kinski in states of total rage (both on and off the sets) to be sure, but this film seems to have one of his most powerful and insane performances. And when you say that about this guy, it means this has to be one overwhelming turn, since Kinski is known for his wild behavior and odd choice in roles. Just when you think one can’t get much crazier, it happens and then it happens again and again. But that is just this movie should be and is the main reason the film has just the right tone under it all. As always, Werner Herzog makes sure we have not only a powerful storyline and such, but also a myriad of memorable images. Some are breathtaking and you’ll never want to forget them, while others might have you wishing you’d closed your eyes in time. This isn’t usual film to be sure, but then again with Herzog & Kinski together who expected it to be? I highly recommend this excellent film and since Anchor Bay has done a fine treatment for this disc, a rental or purchase is well justified.
As I mentioned above, this film was directed by Werner Herzog and stars the volatile Klaus Kinski, which means it will be like no other film of this ilk. The stories of these two and their friendship/hatred cycle is well documented and as such, the films they produced have a sense of that within them. I am unsure what effect the relationship had in terms of changes to the film, but I think the films with Kinski are Herzog’s best work. They seem to have a raw power and passion that burns even after all the years, which few movies can claim. I like several of Herzog’s other films, but the ones with Kinski pack such an emotional punch that they seem to rise above the others. I think the same is true for Kinski as well, he made many other good movies, but these seem so much more powerful in the grand scheme of it all. I think Fitzcarraldo is their greatest work as a team, but Cobra Verde is a close second and almost as impressive in the end. Other films which feature Herzog and Kinski together include Fitzcarraldo, Nosferatu The Vampyre, Woyzeck, and Aguirre: The Wrath Of God. If you want to learn more about this strange and intriguing partnership, I recommend you check out Herzog’s film titled My Best Fiend. This documentary paints the entire picture of their relationship, which proves to be a complex and highly interesting piece of work.
Video: How does it look?
Cobra Verde is presented in a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. This transfer does show some grain, but this is intentional and is no reason for concern, as Herzog often prefers a grainer picture for realism’s sake. This is a nice overall transfer, with bright colors that never smear and flesh tones that seem natural and warm at all times. Contrast is smooth as well, detail looks high and no shadow layering issues arise. This is a solid transfer in the end and fans of the movie should be very pleased with it.
Audio: How does it sound?
This disc includes a new Dolby Digital 5.1 mix for the original German soundtrack, which sounds terrific and gives the film a nice level of depth. I didn’t notice a lot of surround use, but what is here is well placed and works to effective ends. The front channels handle the load well and few problems arise overall, which is impressive for a remix track like this. I figured the surrounds would be forced and such, but this is a natural sounding mix from start to finish. The sound effects sound distinct, music comes off well, and dialogue is crisp and even throughout. This disc also includes English subtitles, if you need them and 2.0 surround tracks in German and English.
Supplements: What are the extras?
You’ll find the film’s trailer in German (with optional English subtitled version) and English forms, as well as some nice talent files on Herzog and Kinski. Rounding out the disc is a commentary with Herzog, which offers a nice look inside the production of this film. A moderator is present to keep him on track, so the commentary never drifts into dull spots in the least. A nice selection of goodies, all of which compliment the film well.