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Stroszek

Stroszek is to Werner Herzog what Ali: Fear Eats the Soul is to Fassbinder: his most accessible and audience-oriented film to date. Herzog has subtitled his film “A Ballad”; in it he tells a lyrical, melancholy, bitterly funny tale of three oddly-assorted Berlin misfits who follow the American Dream to Railroad Flats, Wisconsin, a god-forsaken truck stop where they find a bleak Eldorado of T.V. football, C.B. radio, and mobile homesteading. The title role is played by Bruno S., the Berlin streetsinger and former mental institution inmate whom Herzog previously used to play Kaspar Hauser. Mr. S. once again proves himself one of the most unusual and mesmerizing performers in film today. Nearly as remarkable as Herzog's other pilgrims are Eva Mattes (who Herzog noticed in Jail Bait, and who will play a leading role in Herzog's forthcoming Wozzeck) as a soulful whore, and Clemens Scheitz (a Herzog regular) as an eccentric old man conducting a home-made search for the secrets of “animal magnetism.” The conclusion, one of Herzog's most powerful, involves a flaming truck, an amusement arcade, an Indian chief, an endlessly circling ski lift, a frozen turkey, a single, desolate gunshot, and a dancing chicken.

Several aspects of Stroszek stem from Herzog's frequent visits to PFA, and are reflected in the “Special Thanks” screen credits for Errol Morris and Les Blank. It was Morris (a Berkeley resident and PFA regular) who led Herzog to his location sites in Wisconsin, and Les Blank who inspired one of the more memorable bits in the film (see Blank's Spend It All and you will see what Herzog lifted).

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