Shot in a flat semi-documentary fashion, STROSZEK is Werner Herzog's bleak tragicomedy about a group of German misfits confronting America.
Released from prison, harmless street musician Bruno Stroszek (Bruno S.) moves into a Berlin slum and befriends prostitute Eva (Eva Mattes) and elderly piano-tuner Scheitz (Clemens Scheitz). Eva's estranged pimp repeatedly robs and bullies poor Stroszek; when Scheitz announces that a nephew in the
United States has invited him over, Stroszek and Eva go along. They wind up in Railroad Flats, Wisconsin, casual employees of the hospitable local farming community, and the immigrants discover the joy of buying on credit. Soon they are living in a motor home with a color TV, but malaise sets in.
Waitress Eva, fed up with Stroszek's drinking and inability to manage their debts, resumes whoring at truckstops and eventually drives off with a client. The bank's friendly representatives repossess the motor home and its contents, leaving Scheitz and Stroszek destitute. They hold up a barber
shop. Scheitz is caught straightaway, while Bruno wanders through a deserted tourist trap, closed for the season, and activates a ski lift. It carries him around the hillside like a giant merry-go-round, as he shoots himself.
Even non-German speakers can't ignore the stiff line readings of Bruno S., a longtime mental patient whom Herzog discovered in a documentary ("Bruno der Schwarze") and cast in his EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF AND GOD AGAINST ALL (1975), shuttling the star back and forth between film sets and his menial
factory job. Bruno's lumpen vulnerability overlaps with that of his doomed character; both are thrust into situations quite beyond their control and comprehension (double-underscored by STROSZEK's closing image of a caged, performing chicken). Awkward though he may be, Bruno S. is the heart and
soul of STROSZEK. With a professional actor in his place the film's somewhat simplistic portrayal of America as a land of false promises and disillusionment wouldn't carry the same weight. (Adult situations, substance abuse, profanity.)
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- Released: 1976
- Review: Shot in a flat semi-documentary fashion, STROSZEK is Werner Herzog's bleak tragicomedy about a group of German misfits confronting America. Released from prison, harmless street musician Bruno Stroszek (Bruno S.) moves into a Berlin slum and befriends pro… (more)