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Stroszek (1977) (DVD)

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  • Unsentimental and tragic
  • Very realistic and subtle
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      28.05.2014 06:54
      Very helpful
      (Rating)

      Advantages

      • "Unsentimental and tragic"

      Disadvantages

      • "Very realistic and subtle"

      The dark side of the American Dream

      Bruno Schleinstein (better known as "Bruno S.") stars as the titular Stroszek in this down-to-earth story about the American Dream and the fakeness of its gilded promises that do not hold up in the light of reality. Harassed by the pimps of familiar prostitute Eva (Eva Mattes), they both decide to leave Germany by accompanying Bruno's eccentric neighbour Scheitz (long time Herzog collaborator Clemens Scheitz) on his move to Wisconsin to live with his nephew. Though their life initially seems charmed, if not particularly glitzy, money problems arise, and eventually causes all three to descend into a circle of ruin with the promises of a better life shattered by the bitter realities of the real America. Though low-key, this is again one of those Werner Herzog films that pulls you in almost unnoticeably as you watch, absorbing you within the narrative until the tragic fall of the characters on their path of almost inevitable destruction becomes something you just feel in your gut. There is quite a lot of rather wry humour found in the movie, helping to balance out the bleaker sides from becoming too unbearable - with the absurdity of a botched-from-the-conception bank robbery a particularly hilarious highlight - but the film's almost depressing indictment of the "American Dream" is what ultimately stays on top as the movie's main message. The central performances are typically good, with eccentric oddball Bruno S. making his second and last appearance in a Herzog movie in his short acting career, while Mattes and Scheitz both offer an earthiness and quirkiness to their roles respectively (the former becoming a waitress and the latter conducting studies on animal magnetism) in a film that is almost painfully realistic with its unadorned milieu. Not everything that gleams is gold, and not everything that is gold has real value, is Herzog's brutal message without even attempting to apply any fake gilding in his tearing apart the small displaced people caught in the vastness of this unsentimental Capitalist society. (c) berlioz 2014

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