Woyzeck (1979)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Period Film, Psychological Drama  |   Release Date - Aug 24, 1979 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 82 min.  |   Countries - Germany , United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Tom Wiener

The least known of the five collaborations between director Werner Herzog and actor Klaus Kinski is consistent with their other works (Aguirre, the Wrath of God, Nosferatu the Vampyre, Fitzcarraldo, Cobra Verde) in dramatizing the extreme acts of a desperate man. Here, however, Kinski's character is neither an ambitious conquistador, a hungry vampire, nor a visionary businessman, but a soldier who, at the age of 40, is still a lowly barber. Tormented at every turn by his commanding officer, a local doctor, and his faithless wife (Eva Mattes), Franz Woyzeck is a walking time bomb, and if the cover art on the film's video edition didn't give it away, the concluding murder is foretold by the victim, who declares, "I'd rather have a knife in my body than your hands on me." Herzog is true to playwright Georg B├╝chner's unique blend of naturalism and philosophical rumination. This portrait of isolation is beautifully summed up in a shot of Woyzeck stumbling through the deserted streets of the town with his newly purchased murder weapon. Although this is not one of Herzog's major works, it does deserve more attention, if only for Kinski's heartbreaking performance.