Friday, 5 December 2008

Woyzeck


Woyzeck; Drama, Germany, 1979; D: Werner Herzog, S: Klaus Kinski, Eva Mattes, Josef Bierbichler

A German town in 19th Century. Franz Woyzeck (40) is a hyperactive soldier who performs various jobs for his commander, among them even shaving. When asked why he didn't baptize his son, he replies with: "God will not bear a grudge against a worm for getting born before a blessing". Woyzeck is visibly hallucinating because he has been eating beans for 3 months for an experiment by a local scientist, which causes that his wife Marie and their child distance themselves from him. Woyzeck discovers an officer had an affair with Marie and becomes crazy. He buys a knife and kills Marie in the woods. After that he goes to a ceremony and disappears.

The third film by director Werner Herzog and his favorite actor Klaus Kinski, "Woyzeck" is an adaptation of an unfinished play by Georg B├╝chner and it's interesting to note that it's filming began only 5 days after the duo finished their work on "Nosferatu". It's a minimalistic film composed exclusively out of long takes, but they are mechanic and arbitrarily which is why it doesn't reach the level of their other artistic highlights. The biggest problem is the uninspiring direction that just shoots long takes but doesn't give them a value, except for the ontological scene of murder shot in slow motion, but Kinski is excellent as the hyperactive, mad soldier full of shrill movements, embodying the tragedy of a young man who is destroyed by military and scientific experiments. Yet, the fact remains that Kinski's character is mostly passive while the story is monotone. Among the excellent scenes are also the one where Woyzeck salutes while the opening credits are rolled on the screen; a doctor who throws a cat out from the window that gets caught by the hero and says: "Doctor, she shits!"; Woyzeck coming into Marie's room trying to make her confess her affair ("You have nice lips, but hornets like to land on them!" - "And which one stung you?"). The film was nominated for the Golden Palm in Cannes where Eva Mattes won the best actress award.

Grade:++

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