Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Stroszek [1977]

Bruno Schleinstein, aka Bruno S., was as deeply troubled a person as were his indelible characters in the 2 Herzog films he acted in, The Enigma of Kasper Hauser and Stroszek. His character here was an outsider to the world around him, though not as distinctively as in the former film, and paid with his life as a result. This devastatingly bleak and addecting film was the maverick filmmaker’s meditation on the cruel ironies associated with the enduring myth of ‘American Dream’ and what it entails to be happy in a world that is trying hard to wear us down. The cheekily named protagonist Bruno Stroszek (Bruno S.) is a Berliner, an ex-mental asylum inmate and street musician whose life revolves around his piano and accordion. His life turns hellish on account of two vicious pimps when he allows Eva (Eva Mattes), a down on her luck prostitute, to take refuge in his cramped apartment. So, in the hope for a better life, they move to the US along with an ageing, diminutive, kindly and eccentric friend (Clemens Scheitz). They start living the dream when they buy a car and a mobile house using readily available bank loans, and start working like their blue-collar comrades. However, their short-lived happiness comes crashing down when they start defaulting on their loan payments, and soon find themselves on a spectacular downward spiral leading to a gut-wrenching finale. The wide-angle photography marvelously captured the impersonal urban landscapes of Berlin as well as the stark and wintry rural Wisconsin locales, along with the connecting threads of loneliness and melancholia; the lilting Country tunes and heartfelt performances added to the film’s tragic beauty.

Director: Werner Herzog
Genre: Drama/Black Comedy/Social Satire
Language: German/English
Country: Germany

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