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Woyzeck (1979)

Not Rated | | Drama | 24 August 1979 (USA)
Franz Woyzeck is a hapless, hopeless soldier, alone and powerless in society, assaulted from all sides by forces he can not control.

Director:

Writers:

(play),
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3 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Eva Mattes ...
Marie
Wolfgang Reichmann ...
Captain
Willy Semmelrogge ...
Doctor
Josef Bierbichler ...
Drum Major
Paul Burian ...
Andres
...
Handwerksbursche (as Volker Prechtl)
Dieter Augustin ...
Marktschreier
...
Margret
Wolfgang Bächler ...
Jew
Rosemarie Heinikel ...
Käthe (as Rosy-Rosy Heinikel)
...
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

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
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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

Goofs

As a barber, Woyzeck smears some foam on the Captain's forehead, but when the camera changes, the foam's gone. 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 (1976) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Madness.
7 June 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The picture on the film's IMDb page spoils a major plot point, so make of that what you will. Unfortunately, I saw it before I watched the film.

After loving nearly every minute of the previous Herzog-Kinski collaborations, I was excited to dig my teeth into this one since I had the DVD laying around.

Unfortunately, it turned out to be a step down in nearly every category.

It's based on a stage play, so naturally, it feels more staged than its predecessors, and thus, it felt visually lacking for the most part. Don't get me wrong, though, I admired the use of lighting and shadows in certain shots, and thought the general framing was quite good. But there was rarely a shot that caught my attention and made me go, "Wow, that's great", like in Nosferatu, where there are several amazing images - I revisited that film for the first time last night. I almost feel bad for revisiting Nosferatu in such close approximation as watching Woyzeck for the first time, because it only served to illuminate just how much worse the latter is.

Kinski's presence in Aguirre and Nosferatu was extremely powerful; unforgettable, dare I say. I couldn't take my eyes off him in those films. Here, he plays a character who may have sounded interesting on paper, but turned out to be, I don't want to say bland, as Kinski did a very good job playing Woyzeck, but it's just not a character I cared to witness in action for nearly an hour and a half. He's the type of character who's psychologically damaged and gets driven insane by everything he's witnessed in society, and most likely when he was in war, which we don't get to witness. We just know he's a soldier with severe mental problems, and we get to see how he goes about his day and behaves, which is in a very unusual way. He also has to deal with getting abused at his job, by his superiors, and having to deal with his wife having apparent sexual relations with other men.

Back to the ending. Although I knew it was coming, I still found it to be an affecting sequence, as the terrific combination of Kinski's facial expressions, slow-mo, music, and the sheer brutality of the act made it a sequence I won't soon forget. Even more impressive is the fact it was all done in one take. Kinski was completely in the moment, not once seeming to be distracted. In the moments after that, he continues to be great, as he acknowledges that his wife was a necessary sacrifice for him to be free. And we notice in the dancing scene that his wife's death took a huge load off of him. That doesn't last for long, though, as people notice the blood on him and start to become suspicious that he killed someone. Woyzeck goes back to the murder scene to try and wash the blood of his wife off of him, but realizing that such a cruel act could never simply be "erased" from memory, and that murder is truly in his nature, he seemingly hallucinates and then drowns in the pond right by his wife's dead body. The final shot is of his dead wife covered up and about to be put into a coffin, with apparently some words from the play up on the screen.

This has went on for too long, so I'm going to end this by saying that although this has become my least favorite feature length Herzog film, it had enough strengths for me to consider it above average, which says a lot about how much I admire Herzog as a director. Since I own it, it'll be easy for me to revisit the film when I feel like giving it a second chance, too.


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