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Woyzeck (1979)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama  |  24 August 1979 (USA)
7.2
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 5,884 users  
Reviews: 31 user | 51 critic

Franz Woyzeck is a hapless, hopeless soldier, alone and powerless in society, assaulted from all sides by forces he can not control.

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Title: Woyzeck (1979)

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Eva Mattes ...
Marie
Wolfgang Reichmann ...
Captain
Willy Semmelrogge ...
Doctor
Josef Bierbichler ...
Drum Major
Paul Burian ...
Andres
Volker Prechtel ...
Handwerksbursche (as Volker Prechtl)
Dieter Augustin ...
Marktschreier
Irm Hermann ...
Margret
Wolfgang Bächler ...
Jew
Rosemarie Heinikel ...
(as Rosy-Rosy Heinikel)
Herbert Fux ...
Unteroffizier
Thomas Mettke
Maria Mettke
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Storyline

Everything in town appears calm, placid, lovely. But Woyzeck, a rifleman assigned as an orderly, hears voices -- the times are out of joint, at least in his cosmos. To his captain, Woyzeck is a comic marvel: ignorant but courageous, full of energy to little purpose. To a local doctor, Woyzeck is a curiosity, the object of cruel study. Woyzeck, 40, has a young wife, Marie, and a small child. He dotes on them, but Marie, even though she has periods of guilt and remorse, carries on affairs and flirtations. When the captain lets drop broad hints of Woyzeck's being a cuckold, his inner demons and the voices of the spheres take over. Will madness bring action? Of what sort? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

soldier | coffin | dancing | blood | murder | See All (18) »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

24 August 1979 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Werner Herzog's Woyzeck  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The entire 80-minute film was shot with only 27 cuts. See more »

Goofs

In the opening credits scenes we see Woyzeck being coerced into conducting a series of military drills by the drill instructor. Woyzeck has his rifle slung over his left shoulder. This is incorrect as it should be on his right shoulder. Additionally, he also brings his "rifle down" to the incorrect side. The Prussian Army shouldered their rifles on the right shoulder (facing front). See more »

Quotes

Marie: [to her man during a fight] I'd rather have a knife in my body than your hand on me.
See more »

Connections

Version of Woyzeck (1968) See more »

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User Reviews

 
"Running through creation like a razor"
27 July 2007 | by (Ruritania) – See all my reviews

Woyzeck is Werner Herzog's only ever adaptation of a stage play. There are always problems in the transition of a play from stage to screen. The theatre relies on the power of words and performances, whereas cinema is built more upon images and set pieces. Herzog, an unconventional yet adaptable director, handles the conversion well, giving it a cinematic presentation while still retaining the integrity of the source material.

Buchner's play is a strong story, albeit incredibly grim and depressing. Klaus Kinski, as the title character, is driven insane by military routine and scientific over-analysis, and apparently the role had an irreversible effect on the already psychologically unstable actor. It's typical Herzog material, looking at insanity, dehumanisation and people driven to extremes. Also, like his previous picture Nosferatu, it is another link between the German New Wave and the German Expressionist movement of the 1920s, as it shares that movement's obsessions with psychological analysis and social entrapment.

In filming Woyzeck, Herzog creates an unusual mixture of obviously real locations and rather static, theatrical direction, with few cuts or camera moves. In typical Herzog style there is an unnerving quietness and tranquillity. He isn't afraid to flaunt the advantages of the cinematic medium over the theatrical, with some beautiful landscape shots, and Kinski darting about in and out of close-up and stepping into shot from behind the camera – an effect impossible on the stage. The climactic murder scene is also very well done, and here the picture is at its most openly cinematic.

Kinski is clearly very deep in his performance, and its no wonder the material had such an impact on him. It's a pity, but he is ideal for the role. It's hard to imagine anyone else bringing that much intensity and realism to the part. Really, these collaborations between him and Herzog are the best examples of his unique acting talent because they were, as far as I know, the only opportunities he had to play lead roles. Also worth a mention here are the excellent supporting performances from Eva Mattes and Josef Bierbichler, European actors who deserve far more recognition.

Because of its theatrical origins Woyzeck is perhaps the one Herzog film in which the narrative takes precedence over the look of the thing. On the one hand, this is a good thing because it is much more focused and doesn't digress as his pictures tend to. But for me it also makes it a weaker entry in his filmography, because his films generally rely on their powerful imagery. Still, it is watchable, short and sweet, with some interesting moments.


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

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