Cobra Verde


1h 50m 1988
Cobra Verde

Brief Synopsis

The feared bandit Cobra Verde is hired by a plantation owner to supervise his slaves but soon exacts revenge.

Film Details

Also Known As
Slave Coast
MPAA Rating
NR
Genre
Adventure
Adaptation
Drama
Foreign
Historical
Release Date
1988
Production Company
Concorde Filmverleih Gmbh; De Laurentiis Company; Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (Zdf)
Distribution Company
Concorde Filmverleih Gmbh; Palace Pictures; Sandrew Metronome Distribution Sverige Ab (Sweden); Ugc; Ugc International; Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group; Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (Zdf)
Location
Colombia; Ghana; Brazil

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 50m

Synopsis

A fearsome 19th century bandit cuts a swath through Brazil until he's exiled to Africa to reopen the slave trade. In the process, he exploits tribal conflicts to commandeer an abandoned fortress and whip an army of thousands of naked Amazon warriors into a frenzied bloodlust.

Crew

Mahama Alhassan

2nd Camera Operator

Ben Allordeh

2nd Camera Operator

Francis Annan Jr.

Producer

Francis Annan

Producer (Ghana Film Industry Corporation)

Jacqueline Lemaitre Basile

Production Team (Colombia)

Salvatore Basile

Assistant Director

Salvatore Basile

Executive Producer

Ulrich Bergfelder

Production Designer

Milan Bor

Sound Rerecording

Kofi Bryan

Producer (Ghana Film Industry Corporation)

Fabrizio Carola

Production Designer (Royal Palace)

Bruce Chatwin

Source Material

Carlos Congote

2nd Camera Operator

Gomes Dacosta

Production Team (Ghana)

Friedrich M Dosch

Sound Editor

Christine Ebenberber

Assistant Director

Hermann Fahr

Camera Operator

Ralph Graf

Music Editor

Diobeth Guerra

Production Team (Colombia)

Werner Herzog

Screenwriter

Haymo H Heyder

Sound Recording

Antonio Jordao

Production Team (Ghana)

Pedro Jungmann

Production Team (Brazil)

Hans-walter Kramski

Sound Effects

Ina Lnders

Production Team (Ghana)

Maximiliane Mainka

Editor

Beate Mainka-jellinghaus

Editor Consultant

Thomas Mauch

Additional Cinematography

Thomas Mauch

Dp/Cinematographer

Thomas Mauch

Stills

Fernando Umana Pavolini

Production Team (Colombia)

Joern Poetzl

Sound Effects

Tom Ribeiro

Producer (Ghana Film Industry Corporation)

Jorge Ruiz

Dp/Cinematographer

Jorge Ruiz

Director Of Photography 2nd Unit (2nd Unit)

Viktor Ruzicka

Dp/Cinematographer

Viktor Ruzicka

Director Of Photography

Berthold Sack

Makeup

Walter Saxer

Executive Producer

Walter Saxer

Production Manager

William Sefa

Dp/Cinematographer

William Sefa

Director Of Photography 2nd Unit (2nd Unit)

George Smith

Producer (Ghana Film Industry Corporation)

Benito Stefanelli

Stunt Coordinator

Marco Stefanelli

Stunt Coordinator

Lucki Stipetic

Producer

Gisela Storch

Costume Designer

Daniel Valencia

2nd Camera Operator

Popol Vuh

Music

Kofi Yerenkyi

Producer (Ghana Film Industry Corporation)

Hans Zeiler

Sound Editor

Steven Zeller

Publicist (Deg)

Film Details

Also Known As
Slave Coast
MPAA Rating
NR
Genre
Adventure
Adaptation
Drama
Foreign
Historical
Release Date
1988
Production Company
Concorde Filmverleih Gmbh; De Laurentiis Company; Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (Zdf)
Distribution Company
Concorde Filmverleih Gmbh; Palace Pictures; Sandrew Metronome Distribution Sverige Ab (Sweden); Ugc; Ugc International; Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group; Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (Zdf)
Location
Colombia; Ghana; Brazil

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 50m

Articles

Cobra Verde


There exists a gag photograph taken during the production of Cobra Verde (1987) that shows crazed star Klaus Kinski choking his bemused director Werner Herzog. There is probably as much truth as joke in that photo. Few film collaborations were as volatile as that of the German director and his favorite star. They made five feature films together, at least one of which, 1972's Aguirre, the Wrath of God, is considered a masterpiece. As film historian David Thomson writes in his Biographical Dictionary of Film, "Herzog found his own creative self in Kinski--and the actor found a frame that contained his own unique frenzy." But theirs was always a tumultuous partnership, and the tensions between them that fueled their creativity boiled over during their final project together, Cobra Verde.

Based on the Bruce Chatwin novel The Viceroy of Ouidah, Cobra Verde is the story of a fierce nineteenth-century Brazilian bandit, known as "Cobra Verde" (green snake), who is punished by being sent to Africa to re-establish the slave trade. Against terrible odds, he succeeds, but encounters even greater challenges. Although the character is based on a real person, both the novel and the film are fictionalized. In an article he wrote about the making of the film, Chatwin says that he got the idea for the book when he visited the African country of Dahomey (later Benin) in 1971 and toured the plantation that was the home of the real-life bandit turned slave trader. Chatwin claimed that as he was writing the book he was inspired by the films of Werner Herzog, and recalled thinking that if his novel was ever adapted into a film, he would like Herzog to make it. So when an agent expressed interest in buying the rights to the novel, Chatwin refused and called Herzog, offering him the rights instead.

Cobra Verde was shot in Africa and South America. During the film's production, Chatwin visited the location in Ghana, and was impressed with what Herzog was doing. The king of Dahomey was played by a real king, and the director had built the king's mud and brick palace. "Other movie directors, faced with the problem of re-creating a 19th century African court, would have put it in the hands of the set and costume designers and ended up with a fake," Chatwin wrote. "Werner, hiring a real court and not hanging a thing except the odd Taiwanese watch, more than makes up for lack of historical accuracy by establishing an authenticity of tone."

Chatwin's rollicking account describes the shooting of one of the film's key scenes, a revolt of the Amazons. It included 800 nearly nude women warriors-- "nice girls from Accra, with names like Eunice, Beatrice, Patience, Primrose, Maud and Rhoda," Chatwin wrote. "They behaved very badly. They outraged villagers by singing songs of fantastic obscenity. They went on strike for more money and nearly staged a riot."

But with the unpredictable Kinski, the mood on the set was not always so jolly. According to Chatwin, "One of Kinski's quirks is that he insists on demonstrating how each shot should be framed. This caused a dreadful scene with the original cameraman, who left in a huff." That was Herzog's longtime cinematographer, Thomas Mauch, who was also upset by the constant arguments between Kinski and Herzog. His replacement was Czech cinematographer Viktor Ruzicka, whom Chatwin called "An imperturbably cheerful man, he knows precisely how to handle the star, when to be indulgent and when to be firm." But all of Ruzicka's good cheer couldn't mitigate the antagonism between director and star, and according to Herzog, Kinski "went bonkers" at one point and began hitting him with a rock. By the end of production, Herzog and Kinski were not speaking to one other, and the director vowed he would never work with Kinski again. And he never did.

The film's problems continued after production wrapped. The U.S. distributor declared bankruptcy before Cobra Verde could be released, and the film was not seen in America until 2007, twenty years after it was made. A. O. Scott's review in The New York Times acknowledged the film's problems, but praised its strengths: "Watching Cobra Verde you feel at times that Mr. Herzog, like a figure out of Joseph Conrad, is in danger of losing his way, or even his mind. His eye, however, never deserts him, and the final third of this film contains sequences of horrifying sublimity and ethereal beauty, moments that have a clarity and power beyond the reach of reason."

As for Kinski, much has been written about his manic intensity. Perhaps David Thomson explains it best. "Few actors trying to be great would deny their secret knowledge that the art, the profession, whatever, is deranging. Kinski's originality was in living that secret to the full." Kinski died in 1991 at the age of 65. Eight years later, Herzog made a documentary, My Best Fiend, about his relationship with the star, which the director denied was antagonistic. "People think we had a love-hate relationship. Well, I did not love him, nor did I hate him. We had mutual respect for each other, even as we both planned each other's murder."

Director: Werner Herzog
Producer: Lucki Stipetic
Screenplay: Werner Herzog, based on the novel The Viceroy of India by Bruce Chatwin
Cinematography: Viktor Ruzicka
Editor: Maximiliane Mainka
Costume Design: Gisela Storch
Production Design: Fabrizio Carola, Ulrich Bergfelder
Music: Popol Vuh
Principal Cast: Klaus Kinski (Francisco Manoel Da Silva/Cobra Verde), King Ampaw (Taparica), Jose Lewgoy (Don Octavio Coutinho), Salvatore Basile (Captain Fraternidade), Peter Berling (Bernabe), Guillermo Coronel (Euclides)
110 minutes

by Margarita Landazuri
Cobra Verde

Cobra Verde

There exists a gag photograph taken during the production of Cobra Verde (1987) that shows crazed star Klaus Kinski choking his bemused director Werner Herzog. There is probably as much truth as joke in that photo. Few film collaborations were as volatile as that of the German director and his favorite star. They made five feature films together, at least one of which, 1972's Aguirre, the Wrath of God, is considered a masterpiece. As film historian David Thomson writes in his Biographical Dictionary of Film, "Herzog found his own creative self in Kinski--and the actor found a frame that contained his own unique frenzy." But theirs was always a tumultuous partnership, and the tensions between them that fueled their creativity boiled over during their final project together, Cobra Verde. Based on the Bruce Chatwin novel The Viceroy of Ouidah, Cobra Verde is the story of a fierce nineteenth-century Brazilian bandit, known as "Cobra Verde" (green snake), who is punished by being sent to Africa to re-establish the slave trade. Against terrible odds, he succeeds, but encounters even greater challenges. Although the character is based on a real person, both the novel and the film are fictionalized. In an article he wrote about the making of the film, Chatwin says that he got the idea for the book when he visited the African country of Dahomey (later Benin) in 1971 and toured the plantation that was the home of the real-life bandit turned slave trader. Chatwin claimed that as he was writing the book he was inspired by the films of Werner Herzog, and recalled thinking that if his novel was ever adapted into a film, he would like Herzog to make it. So when an agent expressed interest in buying the rights to the novel, Chatwin refused and called Herzog, offering him the rights instead. Cobra Verde was shot in Africa and South America. During the film's production, Chatwin visited the location in Ghana, and was impressed with what Herzog was doing. The king of Dahomey was played by a real king, and the director had built the king's mud and brick palace. "Other movie directors, faced with the problem of re-creating a 19th century African court, would have put it in the hands of the set and costume designers and ended up with a fake," Chatwin wrote. "Werner, hiring a real court and not hanging a thing except the odd Taiwanese watch, more than makes up for lack of historical accuracy by establishing an authenticity of tone." Chatwin's rollicking account describes the shooting of one of the film's key scenes, a revolt of the Amazons. It included 800 nearly nude women warriors-- "nice girls from Accra, with names like Eunice, Beatrice, Patience, Primrose, Maud and Rhoda," Chatwin wrote. "They behaved very badly. They outraged villagers by singing songs of fantastic obscenity. They went on strike for more money and nearly staged a riot." But with the unpredictable Kinski, the mood on the set was not always so jolly. According to Chatwin, "One of Kinski's quirks is that he insists on demonstrating how each shot should be framed. This caused a dreadful scene with the original cameraman, who left in a huff." That was Herzog's longtime cinematographer, Thomas Mauch, who was also upset by the constant arguments between Kinski and Herzog. His replacement was Czech cinematographer Viktor Ruzicka, whom Chatwin called "An imperturbably cheerful man, he knows precisely how to handle the star, when to be indulgent and when to be firm." But all of Ruzicka's good cheer couldn't mitigate the antagonism between director and star, and according to Herzog, Kinski "went bonkers" at one point and began hitting him with a rock. By the end of production, Herzog and Kinski were not speaking to one other, and the director vowed he would never work with Kinski again. And he never did. The film's problems continued after production wrapped. The U.S. distributor declared bankruptcy before Cobra Verde could be released, and the film was not seen in America until 2007, twenty years after it was made. A. O. Scott's review in The New York Times acknowledged the film's problems, but praised its strengths: "Watching Cobra Verde you feel at times that Mr. Herzog, like a figure out of Joseph Conrad, is in danger of losing his way, or even his mind. His eye, however, never deserts him, and the final third of this film contains sequences of horrifying sublimity and ethereal beauty, moments that have a clarity and power beyond the reach of reason." As for Kinski, much has been written about his manic intensity. Perhaps David Thomson explains it best. "Few actors trying to be great would deny their secret knowledge that the art, the profession, whatever, is deranging. Kinski's originality was in living that secret to the full." Kinski died in 1991 at the age of 65. Eight years later, Herzog made a documentary, My Best Fiend, about his relationship with the star, which the director denied was antagonistic. "People think we had a love-hate relationship. Well, I did not love him, nor did I hate him. We had mutual respect for each other, even as we both planned each other's murder." Director: Werner Herzog Producer: Lucki Stipetic Screenplay: Werner Herzog, based on the novel The Viceroy of India by Bruce Chatwin Cinematography: Viktor Ruzicka Editor: Maximiliane Mainka Costume Design: Gisela Storch Production Design: Fabrizio Carola, Ulrich Bergfelder Music: Popol Vuh Principal Cast: Klaus Kinski (Francisco Manoel Da Silva/Cobra Verde), King Ampaw (Taparica), Jose Lewgoy (Don Octavio Coutinho), Salvatore Basile (Captain Fraternidade), Peter Berling (Bernabe), Guillermo Coronel (Euclides) 110 minutes by Margarita Landazuri

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States January 1988

Released in United States Spring March 23, 2007

Shown at International Film Festival of India in New Delhi January 1988.

Based on the novel "The Viceroy of Ouidah" written by Bruce Chatwin; published by Summit Books December 1980.

Began shooting February 16, 1987.

Completed shooting April 1987.

Thomas Mauch was replaced as director of photography five days into shooting by Viktor Ruzicka after disagreements with Klaus Kinski.

Released in United States January 1988 (Shown at International Film Festival of India in New Delhi January 1988.)

Released in United States Spring March 23, 2007