Wednesday, 27 May 2009

No. 141 : Woyzeck

A bit more highbrow fare here at the 100+ ‘W’ Movies quest with a German language period piece directed by Werner Herzog and starring his usual favourite Klaus Kinski. To be honest I didn’t fancy it either but for £3 at Fopp who could argue?

The film opens with Kinski, who is a lowly army private, being run around the parade ground. After this he earns a few extra coins by shaving his Captain who must be a brave man to let Kinski near him with a razor. He also works part time for a doctor who is as mental as he is having Kinski eat nothing but peas for months and catching his falling cats.

If these points sound a bit whimsical they aren’t. There are no laughs at all in the film, just a lot of philosophising and gnashing of teeth. At home Kinski has a pretty lover and a bastard child. The lover takes his few coins but is being distracted by a drum major who has a nicer jacket. The stress of his life and all pea diet is sending Klaus around the bend and he starts to hear voices and imagines the earth is hollow with doom on the horizon.

After a few distressing episodes he goes and buys a knife and stabs his lover down by the river. Once he’s stabbed her for a full five minutes he retires to the bar where his blood soaked clothes draw attention causing him to flee. He returns to the murder spot to retrieve his knife and tries to dispose of it in the river. He convinces himself that each throw isn’t far enough and wades in each time to collect the knife and throw it further.

The film closes with the undertakers recovering the dead girl and we are left to guess if Klaus joined her by drowning. The film ends with a helpful caption that this was a ‘good murder’.

I wasn’t looking forward to this film and the sleeve notes which stated that it made a nod to Becket and Brecht inspired even less confidence. My fears were realised with a rather boring and ponderous film that seemed very nihilistic throughout. Klaus’ early comments that the poor didn’t have the luxury of virtue sealed his fate from the off and his downward spiral was relentless. The film looks pretty enough but has only 28 cuts in total meaning we get lots of drawn out scenes and moody silences. At one point I had to check that I hadn’t pressed ‘pause’ in error as Klaus just stared at me wordlessly for three minutes.

I’m sure this kind of film would go down a storm in the art houses and with pretentious students but as an exercise in enjoyment and entertainment it failed miserably. Think I’ll go and watch an autopsy to cheer myself up!

Best Bit : Cat-astrophie Averted
‘W’ Rating : 9/23

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