Hard to believe it but, with Stroszek watched, that’s now it for Werner Herzog films on the 1001 list. Four and he is done, which means that it may be a long time becpfore I end up seeing Grizzly Man. It’s actually a bit strange to have Stroszek as the final Herzog film I’ve seen for the list as it follows very few of the tropes that I have come to know.
For one, this is the first film of his (other than a short documentary) that I have seen that does not have Klaus Kinski in it. Also, this is the first one that actually takes place in present day rather than being some sort of period piece. Given those two things, and that it played as a bleak tragicomedy, Stroszek means that I have had to widen my understanding of what makes a Herzog film. Of course that means he is now in the extensive list of film makers that I need to become more acquainted with once I have finished this beginners class in world cinema that is the 1001 list.
Compared to the other Herzog films I’ve seen, Stroszek tells a comparatively small story of man with addiction and emotional issues getting released from jail and then struggling to cope in a world that he isn’t really equipped to deal with. Doesn’t help that his compatriots for the film are his neighbour (who is later revealed to be some conspiracy nut) and a prosititute who is being beaten up by her pimps. Really, to little wonder things go south – even when they leave Berlin to try and forge a new life in Wisconsin.
It isn’t all doom and gloom though. Being a tragicomedy, there are some humorous parts and some sections that are downright absurd. For example, the sideshow that Stroszek visits at the end of the film with its dancing chicken and fire engine riding rabbit – this absurdity is kicked up a notch given its appearance at the film’s emotional nadir. Given the weird emotional palate of the film, praise really has to be given to amateur actor Bruno S. in the title role. He manages to bring a likability to a character that many would have struggled to inspire emotions outside of pity and derision.
Originally today I was going to watch The Great Escape but, since listening to the final 1977 songs for the 1001 list took so long, I kinda ran out of time. My hope is that I’ll finally get around to that film in the next week or so. Given its status as an honorary Christmas film in the UK, I really should have seen it by now.