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Stroszek (1977)

Not Rated  |   |  Comedy, Drama  |  12 January 1977 (USA)
8.1
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Ratings: 8.1/10 from 8,520 users  
Reviews: 54 user | 42 critic

In Berlin, an alcoholic man, recently released from prison, joins his elderly friend and a prostitute in a determined dream to leave Germany and seek a better life in Wisconsin.

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Title: Stroszek (1977)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Bruno S. ...
Der Bruno Stroszek
Eva Mattes ...
Eva
Clemens Scheitz ...
Scheitz
...
Souteneur
Burkhard Driest ...
Souteneur
Clayton Szalpinski ...
Mechanic
Ely Rodriguez ...
Indian mechanic's helper
Alfred Edel ...
Jail headmaster
Scott McKain ...
Scott
Ralph Wade ...
Auctioneer
Michael Gahr ...
Prisoner Hoss
Vaclav Vojta ...
Doctor
Yuecsel Topcuguerler ...
Turk prisoner
Pit Bedewitz ...
Souteneur
Bob Evans ...
Bob Evans
Edit

Storyline

Bruno Stroszek is released from prison and warned to stop drinking. He has few skills and fewer expectations: with a glockenspiel and an accordion, he ekes out a living as a street musician. He befriends Eva, a prostitute down on her luck. After they are harried and beaten by the thugs who have been Eva's pimps, they join Bruno's neighbor, Scheitz, an elderly eccentric, when he leaves Germany to live in Wisconsin. In that winter bound, barren prairie, Bruno works as a mechanic, Eva as a waitress. They buy a trailer. Then, bills mount, the bank threatens to repossess the trailer, Eva wants privacy, and inexorably, the promise of a new life deserts Bruno. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

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Release Date:

12 January 1977 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Stroszek  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The scene of the man pulling his own tooth is based on a similar scene in Spend It All (1972), adapted with the permission of Les Blank (misspelled in the credits as "Les Blanc"). See more »

Goofs

Bruno's coffee cup on the piano disappears. See more »

Quotes

[last lines]
Deputy Sheriff: We have a 10-80 out here, a truck on fire, we have a man on the lift. We are unable to find the switch to turn the lift off, can't stop the dancing chickens. Send an electrician, we're standing by.
See more »

Connections

References Even Dwarfs Started Small (1970) See more »

Soundtracks

On the Way Down to Phoenix
Written and Performed by Chet Atkins
See more »

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User Reviews

From Berlin to Wisconsin
9 March 2007 | by (The Dutch Mountains) – See all my reviews

I recently watched Michael Winterbottom's 24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE, where Ian Curtis hangs himself while watching the chicken dancing sequence in STROSZEK. He'd probably done that anyway, but Herzog's portrait of three eccentric oddballs trying their luck in America, is a sombre film, the most downbeat Herzog made. The only copy I own is a rather dark VHS-copy, which shows some of the interior shots in Berlin even darker than they already are, to the very limit of watchability, so perhaps it's time I update this beautiful film with a proper DVD.

The film handles the story of former asylum inmate Bruno S. (THE ENIGMA OF KASPAR HAUSER) as a Berlin street singer (in a role where he basically plays himself), who joins with his prostitute girlfriend Eva (Eva Mattes) and ageing eccentric friend Scheitz (Clemens Scheitz) to embark on a memorable journey, leaving modern Berlin, for the golden opportunities of America. The 'promised land' is represented by the dreary, austere town of Railroad Flats in rural Wisconsin, where they settle in a mobile home bought on credit, but it turns out America is not gonna fulfill their dreams that easily.

Shot in winter, Berlin is shown as a cold, forbidden and lacklustre place. Not a ray of sunshine. The dark facades of the battered apartment blocks, downlit bars filled with smoke and shabby characters, the only goal the folks in Bruno's world seem to have, is merely make the best of things.

Often read as a critique of how capitalist American society destroys the individual, Herzog sees the film as less a critique of the United States than as "a eulogy" in the wake of the American dream, for such shattered hopes could develop in virtually any country (see "Herzog on Herzog", p. 144). He does throw in some of the eccentricities of American life, but above all, it's a somewhat surreal account of three simple folks, short-changed in life, desperately trying to make ends meet. From the start it's clear that these three are made for each other. They simply do not fit in any stratum of society really. They're too fragile for the world of pimps and low lives that formed the background of their lives in Berlin. Although not dumb, Bruno is too half-witted to be taken seriously by most people. Eva's background is not fully explained, but she's emotionally fragile and dependent, while elderly Scheitz's chances to get ahead in life seems to lay in the past.

It's a bleak and uncompromising film, this tragicomic account of this odd trio in pursuit of a better life outside the dreary confinements of Berlin's lower casts of society, but it's so intensely moving and honest with its subjects, that alone is something to admire.

Camera Obscura --- 9/10


5 of 5 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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