Woyzeck (1979)

Werner Herzog’s adaptation of Georg Büchner’s unfinished 19th century play is an often beguiling if muddled character drama.  Centering on a perturbed serviceman (played by Klaus Kinski) whose disconnect with his patronizing superiors and unfaithful mistress drives him to the point of insanity, Woyzeck’s storyline has more in common with the claustrophobic sociopolitical pieces of R.W. Fassbinder than the Wagnerian grandeur typical of Herzog, where madness is induced because of humanity’s desire to conquer the natural world rather than the pressures of organized society.  Despite Herzog’s slight incongruity with the text, his dark absurdism and surreal aesthetic direction remain sharp, and Kinski performs adroitly as a man teetering on the brink of fear and violence.

3 thoughts on “Woyzeck (1979)

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  1. Hey Charles. If there is a Werner Herzog film you would recommend starting off with, which would that be in your opinion? I’ve read much about the guy and really need to do some digging into the past but I’m often overwhelmed with choice.

    1. Aguirre is probably the best introduction to Herzog’s narrative work, after that I’d recommend catching Fitzcarraldo or Stroszek. As for his documentaries, Grizzly Man is almost certainly his most popular but all of them are worth checking out.

      1. Damn it, yes — Fitzcarraldo was the title I was trying to remember. I got started in on that years ago and the film cut out on me during a power cut. I never got back to it. Thanks for some recommendations. I’m terrible with my blindspots re: global cinema.

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