De Verwording van Herman Dürer was the debut of director and writer Leon de Winter. The film was an expression of the dystopia and disillusion of the seventies after the hope of the sixties. De Winter was hailed as a new hero of Dutch cinema, but few of his films, although critically acclaimed, reached a wide audience.
A young Dutchman without direction, while in jail for a minor drug offence, reads the book Aus dem Leben eines Taugenichts (1826, Life of a Good-For-Nothing) by Joseph von Eichendorff and is inspired by it to travel to Italy, the land of sun and happiness, after his release since nothing awaits him at home except dreary conformity.
On his way he strands in a German industrial town and upon seeing the plight of the Italian immigrants, his ideal of Italy is shattered. A dope addict convinces him that Little Italy in New York is the real promised land, so he travels back to Holland to find a ship. On his way he meets a girl, but she cannot extract him from the insanity that is enveloping him. The bottom is reached in a taxi in the harbour.
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