'Fitzcarraldo’s Search for Aguirre: Music and Text in the Amazonian Films of Herzog'

Rogers, Holly. 2004. 'Fitzcarraldo’s Search for Aguirre: Music and Text in the Amazonian Films of Herzog'. Journal of the Royal Musical Association, 129(1), pp. 77-99. ISSN 0269-0403 [Article]

No full text available

Abstract or Description

This article explores the filmic relationship between music, text and image through an intertextual reading of Herzog's two Amazonian films, Aguirre: Wrath of God and Fitzcarraldo. When Aguirre and Fitzcarraldo encounter each other in the rainforest, 300 years apart, a complicated interplay of history and legend, truth and fiction, is initiated. Awash with magical occurrence, the forest has its own endlessly repeating soundtrack (written by Popul Vuh). The ability of both explorers to defend themselves from the forest depends on their relationship to this music: Aguirre, the earlier explorer, is deaf to the circular sound and attempts to overlay it with a written account of their journey. Fitzcarraldo, on the other hand, enters the forest equipped with a gramophone that plays Verdi arias; he comes with his own soundtrack. Comparison between the two journeys exposes the conventional uses of text/speech and music/song in film, to reveal music as the predominant driving force behind filmic narrative.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


Departments, Centres and Research Units:




Item ID:


Date Deposited:

16 Dec 2015 10:47

Last Modified:

30 Jun 2017 09:52

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



Edit Record Edit Record (login required)