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Simpson Center for the Humanities

Ames Publishes Book on Landmark Herzog Film

Eric AmesEric Ames, Professor and Chair of Comparative Literature, Cinema & Media, has published a new book on the Werner Herzog film Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972). His book, by the same name, is part of the Film Classics Series of the British Film Institute. From the publisher:

Appearing in 1972, Aguirre put Herzog on the map of world cinema. But the film's importance also derives from the young German director's tense, behind-the-scenes relationship with actor Klaus Kinski. Did Herzog really direct him at gunpoint? Did they plot each other's murder? The legends begin here …

In this groundbreaking book, Eric Ames reconstructs the film as an experiment in visualising the past from the viewpoint of the present. Aguirre is not a history film in the narrow sense, but it does engage a specific episode in the conquest of the New World, and it explores that history in terms of vision. Interweaving close analysis with extensive archival research, Ames explores Aguirre as a seminal film about the madness and hopelessness of Western striving. In addition, as an appendix, he offers for the first time a complete translation of an infamous, secretly recorded argument between Herzog and Kinski on the set.

Eric is the organizer of the Oct. 21-22, 2016, Simpson Center conference Teaching World Literature, which aims to lay the groundwork for a new undergraduate major at the UW. He is co-teaching, with Gary Handwerk (Comparative Literature, Cinema & Media), the Fall HUM microseminar for graduate students on the topic of “Teaching World Literature” which dovetails with the conference.

Eric is also the author of Ferocious Reality: Documentary according to Werner Herzog (2012).

Congratulations, Eric!