Films in Peru have been in the news lately, due to the Academy Award nomination of ‘La Teta Asustada’ by director Claudia Llosa, but movies about Peru have a long history. As an American citizen living in Peru, I’ve become fascinated by many aspects of the culture here, and that it includes the movies. So, here is a list of what I consider 5 of the most interesting films about Peru, in order of when they were filmed.
Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes – (1977) Starring Klaus Kinski as Don Lope de Aguirre, and directed by the famed Werner Herzog, it’s the story of an expedition sent out to discover the golden city of Dorado in the late 16th century. The movie chronicles, in a highly stylized fashion, the troubles that besieged the expedition and how Don Aguirre and his ruthless lust for riches leads them into disaster.
Fitzcarraldo – (1982) Another movie by Werner Herzog, again starring Klaus Kinski as Brian Sweeny Fitzgerald, an opera lover who becomes obsessed with the idea of building an opera house in the Peruvian jungle. Fitzgerald, called Fitzcarraldo in the local dialect, becomes more and more egomaniacal throughout the film, culminating in his use of Indian slaves to tow a 340 ton steamboat over a mountain.
Dias de Santiago – (2004) A low budget independent movie that details the life of Santiago, a 23 year old young man who had been drafted into the military at the age of 16, and is now having a difficult time reconciling the horrors of war with the wreckage of his family and life outside of the military. The movie follows Santiago as he struggles to make sense of his life. It’s a harsh, realistic look at how life is for many in Lima.
Diarios de Motocicleta – (2004) Although this movie, chronicling the early life of Che Guevara, isn’t specifically about Peru, most of the movie takes place in this country. No matter your opinion of Che Guevara, this is a beautifully shot film with a gorgeous soundtrack that chronicles Guevara’s transformation from a life of liberal privilege to that of a man who has seen the hopelessness in the lives of the poor and wishes to make a change.
Madeinusa – (2006) This movie was the first collaboration between Claudia Llosa and actress Magaly Solier,. Madeinusa is a young girl who lives in a fictional town where locals believe that each year, on the days between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, God is literally dead and cannot see their sins. The 3 days become a bacchanalia of sin and perversion, as the townspeople believe God won’t know what they’re doing.
If you haven’t seen La Teta Asustada, I recommend that also. I didn’t include it on this list because it is probably the best known of Peruvian films. I hope you can find the time to check out a few – or all! – of these movies.