Posts Tagged ‘Fitzcarraldo’

stroszekStroszek: In 1977, Werner Herzog wrote Stroszek in four days just to accommodate the maniacal talent of German actor Bruno Schleinstein (who, by the way, had no training in acting whatsoever). The brevity is quite startling considering how brilliantly Herzog has structured the story. Talk all you want about artistic impulse, but it takes more than a genius to pen something this wistfully tragic in four friggin days. As for Bruno, the main character of Stroszek, he really, really nails it. I dare you to find a character sent further astray by the crushing malevolence of life and I double dare you to find an actor who could re-do that final Thanksgiving scene with just as much brilliant absurdity. Based on a Berlin street singer’s painful pursuit of the American dream in Wisconsin, the film has him dodging the crevices of life along with a prostitute and two other friends. Also, there is a bank robbery scene that will have you in splits…and you know what won’t? When I tell you, “Ian Curtis, the lead singer of the band Joy Division, reportedly committed suicide a few hours after watching the film on BBC on May 18, 1980.”

nosferatuNosferatu: Based on the 1922 adaptation of Dracula by German director Friedrich Murnau of the same title, Nosferatu marked the second time that the two brutal forces of cinema – Herzog and Kinski – worked together. Herzog’s mind catapults the classic from its comfortable Expressionism perch into German New Wave-inspired surrealism. The nuances of change in the characters are also what make this film, in my opinion, darker than the original. For instance, in Murnau’s film, the Count (Max Schreck) is both righteously evil and charming; in Herzog’s version, Klaus Kinski is made to play the monster with vulnerability and confusion, as is hinted initially by the lack of a sexual identity in the earlier part of the film. I could even see a bit of insecurity that made us sympathize with the hunchbacked Quasimodo. I assure you, it is not without ample proof that I tell you that Mr Kinski is the fucking man.

Woyzeck: Woyzeck is an adaptation of a play by German dramatist Georg Büchner. Shot within 18 days, the film follows the life of Frank (Klaus Kinski), a soldier who tries holding on to his sanity despite being down and out. The poor man is put through medical experiments by the army just to make a bit of money for his mistress and illegitimate child. Then love puts him through something worse. Herzog does what he does best and that is to chronicle the tale of a man slowly going insane. Seriously, 18 days? I swear, Jimmy Page’s fingers and a Gibson guitar have had less artistic chemistry than these two wonderfully twisted legends of cinema.

god's angry manGlaube Und Währung (God’s Angry Man): In most of Herzog’s documentaries, the protagonist seems like he/she jumped right out off a Tom Robbins novel. They are almost always larger than life, holier than thou, and crazier than a mad cow. In Glaube Und Währung, controversial and popular televangelist Gene Scott is in focus. See, during the Seventies, pastor Scott got into trouble with the Federal Communications Commission over allegations of illegal fund raising. Of course, he rubbishes such claims and tries convincing Herzog that the government was just not cool with how much power he had over the (viewers) followers. Running for a little over 43 minutes, this bizarre documentary reaches another level of intensity when we realize how financially committed the man really is towards faith. I have never seen a man more tormented while asking for a mere favour.

fitzcarraldo klaus kinskiFitzcarraldo: Loosely based on the life of the slightly mad Carlos Fermín Fitzcarrald, a Peruvian rubber baron, this 1982 film has been dubiously known for the way it was directed (and also for a little matter concerning a 300-ton steamship). Herzog and Kinski reportedly had some of those most disturbing showdowns on the set. Thanks to the little kindness that irony sometimes bestows upon cinema, the simmering tension also made for many of Fitzcarraldo’s fantastically ad-libbed moments. And the expressions. Oh I tell you, the expressions on Kinski’s face as he orders his men around the frighteningly alien landscape of the Brazilian wild. Ladies and gentlemen, after much thought, I would like to reinforce the fact that Klaus Kinski is indeed the fucking man.

Read Full Post »