Picks and Pans Review: Woyzeck
As one of the movies' most interesting young directors, West Germany's Werner (Aguirre, the Wrath of God) Herzog bears watching, no matter what he does. This movie, based on the Georg Büchner 1836 story that was turned into a classic absurdist play, depicts an army private's slide into madness. The private, masterfully played by Klaus Kinski, is degraded at every turn. His commanding officer heaps abuse on him, a crazy village doctor feeds him a diet of peas in the name of scientific experimentation and, finally, his common-law wife (Eva Mattes) rejects him. The last is too much to take, of course, and the violent climax is predictable. For all the tension and symbolic flourishes (a monkey in uniform, voices from the ground), the film seems a failure, perhaps because it doesn't evoke any sympathy for the private. But for aficionados of the new cinema, work like this is rewarding, however flawed. (In German with English subtitles) (Not rated)
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