Directed By: Werner Herzog
Starring: Klaus Kinski, King Ampaw, José Lewgoy
Tag line: "The slaves will sell their masters and grow wings..."
Trivia: This movie was shot on-location in Brazil, Colombia and Ghana
Director Werner Herzog and his "favorite" actor, Klaus Kinski, who had worked together on four previous films (Aguirre Wrath of God, Nosferatu the Vampyre, Woyzeck and Fitzcaraldo) team up one last time for the 1987 historical epic, Cobra Verde.
Kinski stars as Francisco Manoel de Silva, a notorious Brazilian outlaw who goes by the pseudonym Cobra Verde. For a brief time, Cobra Verde attempts to settle down, agreeing to work as the chief overseer for a wealthy slave owner named Don Octavio Coutinho (Jose Lewgoy), but that falls apart when Cobra Verde impregnates all three of Coutinho’s daughters! To exact his revenge, Coutinho ships the outlaw off to Africa on an impossible mission: to rekindle the dying slave trade. It seems the area in which slaves are most abundant is ruled by a tyrannical king, and in the last 10 years, any white man trying to "obtain" them has met a grisly end. But then, Cobra Verde is no ordinary man, and with the help of his newly-found guide, Taparica (King Ampaw), he might just come out on top.
Kinski is a raving lunatic through much of Cobra Verde, and gets even worse when the action shifts to Africa. One of the film’s most bizarre scenes has Cobra Verde, with his long mane of blonde hair, surrounded by hundreds of African tribesman, all of whom are ready to follow him into battle (he even kicks a huge snake out of his way as he charges forward with his sword drawn). According to some, including director Werner Herzog, Kinski’s intensity was just as strong when the cameras weren’t rolling, and his constant behind-the-scenes outbursts were a key reason Cobra Verde was the last movie Herzog ever made with the actor. But while I’m sure Kinski’s antics became a real trial for cast and crew alike, the end result is a maniacal lead character whose insanity is utterly fascinating to behold.