Aguirre, The Wrath Of God Film Review – It’s Impossible To Watch Aguirre In 2020 And Not Think About CBS All Access
When Aguirre, The Wrath Of God was first released in 1972 it was immediately seen as a critical hit. Seeing the film used to make you think of Conrad’s Heart Of Darkness, but now, it the year 2020, it is almost impossible to think of anything else other than CBS All Access, the online streaming platform launched in late 2014.
Like the expedition of Aguirre in the film, sailing off down the river in four homemade rafts in search of El Dorado, CBS also embarked down the streaming river in search of internet glory. CBS All Access’s four rafts were The Good Fight, Star Trek: Discovery, No Activity, and Big Brother: Over The Top. Like the raft that gets stuck in the eddy before all of the members are murdered, CBS All Access also almost immediately lost Big Brother: over The Top after only 10 episodes.
Eventually, Bob Bakish, the Klaus Kinski of the Portmanteauperfectly named ViacomCBS, guided the boat forward making changes to the service. Around this time though, the river of streaming options from other companies began flooding the marketplace, just like the river did while Herzog was filming Aguirre. Bakish, now seemingly inhabiting both Kinski and Herzog on set, decided to move forward without a complete script or exact idea of where the project was going to end up. When you have a streaming service or raft, that is floating upon a rising river, just go with what works for you at the moment with no idea if that is a good long term plan.
Luckily for Herzog, he was filming the movie chronologically, so his lack of a set script allowed for improvements and on-the-fly story decisions resulting in a man and crew going slowly mad on a placid river. CBS All Access, instead of having a variety of shows and options decided they should put almost all of their hope into one property, Star Trek. So, like with all of the crewmen that were slowly murdered one by one with spears on Aguirre’s raft, tv shows were slowly axed one by one on CBS All Access.
At the end of the film, we see Aguirre standing upon the raft almost all to himself, just like Star Trek and its 6ish offshoots (Discovery, Short Treks, Picard, Lower Decks, After Trek, Strange New World, Section 31) stand almost completely by themselves now.
But, like with Aguirre, not all is lost. El Dorado could still be out there. For example, after only five years of existence, Netflix only had House Of Cards, Orange Is The New Black, Daredevil, Sense8, Narcos, Jessica Jones, Stranger Things, The Get Down, Luke Cage, The Crown, The OA, Ozark, Mindhunter, 13 Reasons Why, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Master Of None, Lady Dynamite, Dear White People, American Vandal, Bojack Horseman, Big Mouth, Dark, Five Came Back, Queer Eye, Arrested Development, Clone Wars, The Killing, Black Mirror, and around 100ish other shows that people actually watched. So there are still literally weeks for CBS All Access to produce a similar stream of content that people are interested in to equal where Netflix stood at its five-year mark.
It is great to see that like how Aguirre, The Wrath Of God influenced Apocalypse Now, CBS All Access also influenced the just launched, and equally as big and powerful, streaming service NBC Now. Everyone I personally know is currently “Flocking To Peacock” so they can stream a variety of Chicago based shows.
Only time will tell if CBS All Access becomes like Aguirre the movie or Aguirre the character.