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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:

Werner Herzog

Writers:

Georg Büchner (play), Werner Herzog
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3 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

West Germany

Language:

German

Release Date:

24 August 1979 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Werner Herzog's Woyzeck See more »

Filming Locations:

Czech Republic See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Klaus Kinski began filming this after having only a week-long break after the completion of Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979), also directed by Werner Herzog. Kinski exploited his exhaustion for his character in this film. See more »

Goofs

Blood stains on Woyzeck's sleeve continuously change their extension and color from one scene to another. 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 (2004) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Werner Herzog at his most disturbingly nightmarish
30 June 2017 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

Despite being perhaps the shortest film length-wise of director Werner Herzog and actor (and one of his more frequent collaborators) Klaus Kinski, visually and thematically one may find 'Woyzeck' one of their least accessible. Then again, some familiarity with the story/play does help, as was the case with me through the Berg opera 'Wozzeck'.

Admittedly, for Herzog, 'Woyzeck' is somewhat weird and can be very disturbing and tense (like the story should be, particularly in the climactic moments), anyone looking for "entertainment" or "feel-good" (though research on the film and play should be enough to say not to expect either) are best looking elsewhere. Although it is not the most consistently involving Herzog film pace-wise, 'Woyzeck' is to me one of his most under-appreciated, it just falls shy of being a masterpiece but is still great.

'Woyzeck' is very atmospheric visually. Not one's definition of "beautiful", having more of a more static and bleaker look than other Herzog films. The production design and lighting drip with startling atmosphere though and the photography is striking in its own way. The visuals are very stylised but that's effective and essential in showing Woyzeck's state of mind and reinforcing suppression of a sexual and socio-political nature. This is particularly true in the truly harrowing murder scene, with some of the most ingenious use of slow motion in film from personal perspective, all the climactic moments benefit but particularly this scene.

The music, in mood and style, enhances the nerve-shredding intensity of the climactic scenes in particular. The use of the lovely Marcello Adagio accompanying the murder could easily have come across as a big gimmick in how it was arranged to fit the images, however as it was once again crucial in mirroring the state of mind of the titular character it proved effective.

Regarding the dialogue, there are many memorable lines that stays with one for a while, and the story has many dramatically riveting moments in particularly the final third, is rich in static but tense atmosphere and is interesting thematically. Occasionally, the pace drags a little, particularly when everyone and everything is being introduced, but not dreadfully so.

Herzog typically directs superbly, delivering on substance as well as style. Woyzeck is a brilliantly realised and vividly real titular character, and while the other characters aren't as interesting or as meaty they are hardly neglected or weak characters in this regard.

Klaus Kinski dominates the cast in a portrayal that is grippingly disturbing and intensely poignant, Woyzeck's descent is both frightening and heart-wrenching. Eva Mattes comes off best in support as sultry and feisty Marie, while Wolfgang Reichmann has fun with the Captain.

Overall, not the best Herzog/Kinski film but a very good and under-appreciated one. 9/10 Bethany Cox


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