Review: Stroszek

I’ve been meaning to more thoroughly explore Werner Herzog’s eclectic filmography ever since I discovered Aguirre, the Wrath of God back in college. Fortunately, a decent chunk of his work is currently streaming on Fandor, which allowed me to cross Stroszek off my list today. 



It’s a delightfully offbeat little farce, chronicling the trials and tribulations of an eccentric German street musician as he attempts to begin life anew in Wisconsin following a stint in prison. The visual style is mesmerizing, featuring loose, spontaneous camerawork that’s more reminiscent of documentaries than traditional narrative films, but the ridiculously unpredictable plot is the real treat here—literally anything can and does happen (to name just one example: our protagonist sticks up a barber shop after failing to rob the bank that repossessed his mobile home, then calmly strolls across the street to spend his ill-gotten loot on groceries). It’s two hours of utter absurdity… that still somehow manages to find a few poignant moments; has there ever existed an image that more perfectly encapsulates the futility of the “American Dream” than a man clutching a shotgun in one hand and a frozen turkey in the other, riding a ski lift in circles while a chicken dances in a coin-operated booth?


I also watched Even Dwarfs Started Small, but that one’s indescribable, so I won’t even try.


[Originally written May 3, 2018.]

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