Saturday 16 November 2013

Woyzeck [1979]

Woyzeck, adapted from the play of the same name by Georg Büchner, quite easily remains the least known of the 5 collaborations between Herzog and Klaus Kinski, and was also the one with least production demands. Rather than juxtaposing psychological travails with outlandish physical demands as in Aguirre or Fitzcarraldo, this focused entirely on the inner anguishes, troubles, demons, angst and existential crisis of the titular dim-witted, small-town protagonist played by Kinski. Stationed in a provincial town at an unspecified past, he is a low-ranking private in the army who is engaged for various menial jobs like doubling as a barber for his hulking Captain (Wolfgang Reichmann) who finds him strange and amusing, and is also comically vocal about it. His idiosyncracies have also made him a guinnea pig for the ludicrous experimentations of a sham Doctor (Willy Semmelrogge). Forever at the receiving end of jokes and jabs, further accentuated by his pitiable social status, his sole saving grace is the beautiful Marie (Eva Mattes) with whom he has fathered an illegitimate child, much to the consternation of the conservative town folks. Consequently when she starts having a torrid affair on the sly with the hyper-masculine Drum Major, it doesn’t just humiliate his sense of manhood, it turns out to be the last straw in his fragile tryst with sanity and civility. The tender and intimate portrayal of this lonely and perennially misunderstood outsider, along with the dash of black humour, and fuelled by Kinski’s layered, heartbreaking and implosive performance, imbued the serio-comic gem of a film with a deep humanism and sense of unfairness and tragedy.

Director: Werner Herzog
Genre: Drama/Psychological Drama
Language: German
Country: Germany

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