I discovered Werner Herzog first through his remake of Nosferatu and then through Fitzcarraldo and Aguirre: The Wrath of God. Though the brilliance of those movies is unimpeachable, Stroszek, at least for me, stands at the apex of Herzog's oeuvre. This intensely moving and satisfying film which begins in Germany and winds up in Wisconsin is solid through and through. There's not a weak moment or weak element to be found. The acting, especially by Bruno S., is completely unaffected and without over-stylization (there is, perhaps, a reason for this - they aren't acting, simply being). The story itself deals with melodramatic elements without steering into soap opera territory and the film's ideology is not black in white. There's subtlety and complexity to the ideas put forth in this film about America, Germany, human beings, life, etc. Moreover, Stroszek avoids beating the audience's brains with its ideas; Herzog presents them in the context of the story, smoothly integrated. And then there's the beautiful photography, particularly of the American Midwest; Herzog and his cameramen capture perfectly the cold, stark, desolate magnificence of the upper-Plains. To draw a weird comparison, the photography here is the equivalent of Husker Du's New Day Rising - crisp, harsh, and gorgeous simultaneously. Stroszek also has a justifiably well-known ending, both surreal and completely sensible. Though any other director would be unable to top an ending such as that in Aguirre (the slumped conqueror, floating on a monkey-covered raft), Herzog does just that here. Truly, if you have not seen any Herzog, this is a great place to start; then go see Aguirre, Fitzcarraldo, Nosferatu, Woyczek, and Invincible. The man is brilliant and I await with bated breath Grizzly Man, his new project.
Comedy / Drama
Comedy / Drama
In Berlin, an alcoholic man, recently released from prison, joins his elderly friend and a prostitute in a determined dream to leave Germany and seek a better life in Wisconsin.
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September 3, 2019