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Herzog’s fascination with strange characters adrift in strange environments takes a turn toward the humorously absurd in this comically deadpan, decidedly oddball road trip adventure.
“Eccentric and dazzling … Stroszek is part morality tale, part absurdist comedy.” – Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
In Stroczek, outsider artist and musician Bruno S. (who had earlier starred in Herzog’s The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser), reteams with the director for an indelible vision of American insanity. In Berlin, an alcoholic accordion player (Bruno S.), recently released from prison, sets up house with a naïve hooker named Eva who defies Pavlov’s laws by resolutely refusing to learn from experience. When the going gets tough, the strange duo hooks up with Herr Scheitz, a frail eccentric in his 70s, and the three endearing, if none-too-bright, pilgrims abandon the harshness of Berlin to seek out a better life in the promised land of America – northern Wisconsin, to be exact – with little money and even less English between them. Thus begins a mysteriously offbeat odyssey through the wintery wastelands of Wisconsin, a fairy tale-like journey best described by film critic Andrew Sarris as “something like if Herman Hesse and Franz Kafka had collaborated on a Zen remake of Easy Rider.” Like most of Herzog’s films, Stroszek abounds in haunting images, brilliantly evocative metaphors and eruptions of sardonic wit, including what could easily be considered the best performance by a dancing chicken in the history of cinema. (Dir. by Werner Herzog, 1977, Germany, in German/English/Turkish with subtitles, 115 mins., Not Rated)