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come to recognize as easy prey. Perhaps because it was written so quickly, and without deliberation, STROSZEK repeats some imagery from Herzog’s earlier work—an abandoned car set to drive end- lessly in circles, for example—but this doesn’t pre- vent it from standing as one of his most haunting and penetrating features. STROSZEK (1.66:1) is presented alone by Shout! Factory, while BFI have it share a disc with HEART OF GLASS, which also features Clemens Scheitz. Its extras are limited to a trailer (3m 26s) and another very useful 2004 Herzog commentary moderated by Norman Hill, while BFI adds a 2m 29s stills gallery.


WOYZECK 1979, 79m 47s (S!F), 79m 45s (BFI)


Based on Georg Büchner’s 19th century play, whose surviving fragments, so open to interpre- tation, have been regarded as one of the founda- tions of German stagecraft since Max Reinhardt first presented it in 1913, WOYZECK had every reason to become one of Herzog’s lesser films. It was reportedly made by a film crew and star who were teetering on the edge of complete exhaus- tion, having just completed NOSFERATU THE VAMPYRE a mere four days before it went into production. This exhaustion may be responsible


for the approach taken to the filming, which is unusually static for Herzog, who has estimated that the entire film, edited in only four days, con- tains only 35 cuts. There is a sense about it of


book illustrations, of opera, of tableaux vivante, and it is by far the shortest of Herzog’s dramatic features. But somehow, not in spite of its dimin- ished length and style but because of them, it conveys unusual power through its unadorned simplicity, possibly because its principals were working pressed to the brink.


Klaus Kinski can be seen pushing himself to the very limit in the role of Franz Woyzeck—a highly-strung, emaciated, much put-upon soldier who lives in a small apartment with Marie (Eva Mattes), the unwed mother of an infant that Woyzeck has accepted as his own son. In the origi- nal play, Marie truly is the mother of his child, but here the issue is consigned to ambiguity, as one of many physical and spiritual insults bourne by our existential hero, whose noble suffering makes him a pincushion for his drill sergeant, his commanding officers, a doctor who uses him as a test subject for a diet consisting only of peas, and for the boors at the local tavern, until he achieves an almost Christ-like status. Marie’s fla- grant affair with a handsome drum major (Josef Bierbichler) then pulls his pin, initiating a nervous breakdown that culminates in his murdering her.


In WOYZECK, Klaus Kinski succumbs to dangerous jealousy when a visiting drum major (Josef Bierbichler) seduces his wife.


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