Synopsis by Karl Williams
Abstract images produced with an electronic video mix -- as well as the surrealist paintings of artist Mati Klarwein -- highlight this adaptation of the literary classic by Herman Hesse. Max von Sydow stars as Harry Haller, a self-absorbed, misanthropic writer contemplating the duality of his nature as both a social outsider disenchanted with the chaos and disorder of the everyday world and an inner "steppenwolf." Planning to commit suicide by the age of 50, Haller seeks a reconciliation of these different aspects of the self, while encountering a mysterious woman who leads him into a magical realm where his efforts to achieve redemption may be realized through a metaphysical transcendence. Whether it is mental illness, narcotics, or an authentically supernatural experience that overtakes Haller remains unclear. Essentially as plotless as Hesse's source novel, Steppenwolf (1974) was mostly memorable for its avant garde visuals, which made it a favorite of youthful audiences seeking hallucinogenic cinematic experiences such as those in the final half hour of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).
schizophrenia, mental-illness, mid-life-crisis, multiple-personality, suicide, writing