Franz woyzeck is a hapless hopeless soldier alone and powerless in society assaulted from all sides by forces he cannot control. Abused and tortured both physically and psychologically by commanding officers doctors and hi... more »s unfaithful wife. Studio: Starz/sphe Release Date: 06/03/2008 Starring: Eva Mattes Willy Semmelrogge Run time: 80 minutes Rating: Nr Director: Werner Herzog« less
"The adjectives "creepy" and "mordant" are usually not used in praise of something, but those are the terms I use to praise Werner Herzog's mesmerizing film "Woyzeck." Herzog regular Klaus Kinski stars in the title role and his first appearance, in the opening credits, is worth the price of the video. A hair-raising tune is played by a string group as the soldier Woyzeck is drilled and brutalized by a shadowy figure in jackboots. He spends the film being degraded by his cynical superior officer and experimented on by a sadistic doctor. His sexy wife (Eva Mates, winner of the best actress award at Cannes) is sleeping with a drum-major. Woyzeck succumbs to the voices in his head and in one of the most horrific murder scenes ever filmed, takes action. The story has been around for 175 years and obviously speaks deeply to Germans, who have had plenty of historical experience with sadism and domination (the doctor is eerily prescient of Nazi atrocities.) This film is not as totally satisfying as "Aguirre" or "Nosferatu" but has moments of twisted genius all its own. Herzog is a unique director who makes demented, entertaining epics that can go way over the top (the closest American equivalent is Francis Ford Coppola in his "Apocalypse Now" phase.) Oddly moving, even darkly funny, this must be one of the favorite movies of Mike Myers' "Dieter" character from "Saturday Night Live". Watch it on Halloween, if you are in the right mood."
BORN TO LOSE
wdanthemanw | Geneva, Switzerland | 01/28/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"We have to thank Anchor Bay for bringing into the DVD standard a certain number of german director Werner Herzog movies. Werner Herzog is, in my opinion, one of the best film directors of Movie History and his films must be shown again and again if we want that a new generation of directors rises from the ashes of the kilometers of rotten anonymous pellicle produced in industrial quantity nowadays. WOYZECK was filmed in 1978 in Czeschoslovaquia, just after the completion of NOSFERATU. Georg Büchner's play is well-known to european literature students who have to read it at least once during their academic career. At first, I didn't understand why WOYZECK had attracted a lyrical director like Werner Herzog. Georg Büchner's minimalist dialogs and action don't leave much place for the visionary travellings of the director of AGUIRRE and KASPAR HAUSER. But, as soon as Klaus Kinski appears as the soldier Woyzeck, I knew that something would happen on the screen, Klaus Kinski IS Woyzeck in the same way that he WAS Aguirre, the mad conquistador. When Woyzeck feels that there is " a second nature " hidden behind what we see, the genius of Werner Herzog explodes once again : what is important is not what we see but what we feel while being hypnotized by the hallucinated Klaus-Woyzeck-Kinski. Of course, I shall recommend WOYZECK to those of you who are already familiar with Werner Herzog's world through AGUIRRE, KASPAR HAUSER or HEART OF GLASS. I also recommend it to the students who are fighting with the dryness of Georg Büchner's play or to those who still believe that Klaus Kinski was only a B-movie actor who starred in horror movies and spaghetti westerns of the 60's and the 70's. Superb copy with a trailer and incomplete filmographies of Werner Herzog and Klaus Kinski. A DVD zone movie lovers only."
Woyzeck Powerful Truthful Kinski Assoluta
William L. Phipps | Tuckahoe, NY United States | 07/11/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Klaus Kinski gives the finest performance of his career in this fine adaptation of the play, later used by Alban Berg for his opera Wozzeck, completed in 1924. The story has always had a power and truth all of its own; indeed it is based on an actual incident. Highly recommended!"
Philip J. Brubaker | Chapel Hill, NC United States | 02/15/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Many fans of Aguirre seem to have trouble with this film, which has only 27 edits. One need not have a stalwart attention span to endure this film, only an interest in insanity, a recurring theme of Herzog's work. The performances are really brought to the fore in this film, making it's theater origins all the more apparent, particularly with the solilioquies that several of the characters give when they are alone. But just as cinema was borne of theater, there are some quintessentially cinematic scenes that more than make up for any staginess elsewhere. I rank Herzog up there with Kubrick and Scorsese as directors who understand better than anyone else the power of music combined with psychically compatible images. The opening sequence is a prime example. While this is not one of his very best films, it is one of his most difficult and well-acted. B+"
A Haunting, Memorable Film with An Amazing Performance by Ki
Joshua Miller | Coeur d'Alene,ID | 04/28/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Woyzeck marks the fourth collaboration between director Werner Herzog and actor Klaus Kinski and is Herzog's adaptation of George Büchner's unfinished play. I'm not familiar with the play, but I am familiar with Kinski and Herzog and recently re-visited Aguirre, the Wrath of God, which is now one of my favorite films. Woyzeck is a much different film from that one, with a performance that is similar yet couldn't be more different. I'll get to that later on.
The film begins "in a small town on a wide, still pond" where Franz Woyzeck (Kinski), a soldier, is stationed with his mistress Marie (Eva Mattes) and his illegitimate child. Woyzeck only seems to be happy when around Marie and his child, and who can blame him? The only other people in his life are his Captain, who tells Woyzeck he's a "good man" but one "without morals," simply because Woyzeck is poor. The other is a doctor who uses Woyzeck for various (and increasingly ridiculous) medical experiments. Woyzeck's sanity is slowly crumbling and when his captain hints that Marie may have had an affair, the film builds to a startling climax.
Woyzeck is a change of pace for both Herzog and Kinski. The movie does have some stylistic touches that only Herzog could have been responsible for and there's some beautiful cinematography right from the opening scene, but the visual extravagance that characterizes much of Herzog's directorial work is nowhere to be found here. As for Kinski, his performance here should change any previous perception you may have had of Klaus Kinski, the actor.
Kinski was apparently suffering from exhaustion when production on Woyzeck began and is said to have exploited his exhaustion for the role. Early in the film, he actually seems much more gentle and warm than I was accustomed to seeing and when Herzog takes a moment to linger on his face, there's no trace of that ferocity that was present throughout his portrayal of Aguirre. With that said, it's incredible how different the characters Aguirre and Woyzeck are and how great of an actor Kinski could be. As Aguirre, he brought out the animalistic nature that lurks within every human being. As Woyzeck, he's tapping into that slow descent into madness that any sane man can go through once he's hit his breaking point.
There's a pivotal scene in the film that plays in slow-motion with the score drowning out everything else on the soundtrack. In the hands of a lesser director, this scene could have been completely ridiculous but Herzog knows how to achieve maximum effect. In this scene, Kinski must work only with facial expression and physical mannerisms (in slow-motion, no less) and, in doing so, solidifies his Woyzeck as one of the most startling, intensely emotional performances committed to celluloid. Kinski turns in such an emotional performance, yet plays Woyzeck as an introvert...Without ego or bravado, Kinski must illustrate this man slowly unraveling inside and he does it so convincingly that Herzog's style and Kinski's performance make this pivotal scene one of the most memorable and haunting in the film. To call Kinski `electrifying' in this film is to undermine the power of electricity.
I look forward to one day seeing Woyzeck again as I'm sure my appreciation for it will only deepen. Its brief length (a quick 77 minutes) and lack of singular narrative focus make Woyzeck a slightly uneven, imperfect film. Stylistically, it does so many things correctly it's hard to not call this film a "masterpiece," especially with few movie endings able to rival the nightmarish, creeping final shot of this film. With that said, the film is a triumph for Kinski and Herzog, as well for taking Kinski to these dark depths as an actor. While I didn't love Woyzeck, it's a film that will haunt my memory and stay with me longer than many films I do love have.