|Directed by||Werner Herzog|
|Produced by||Werner Herzog|
|Written by||Werner Herzog|
|Music by||Chet Atkins
|Edited by||Beate Mainka-Jellinghaus|
|Distributed by||Werner Herzog Filmproduktion|
Stroszek is a 1977 German film directed by Werner Herzog and starring Bruno S., Eva Mattes, and Clemens Scheitz. Written specifically for Bruno S., the film was shot in Plainfield, Wisconsin, and North Carolina. Most of the lead roles are played by non-actors.
Bruno Stroszek (Bruno S.) is a Berlin street performer. Released from prison and warned to stop drinking, he immediately goes to a familiar bar where he comforts Eva (Eva Mattes), a prostitute down on her luck, and lets her stay with him at the apartment his landlord kept for him. They are then harried and beaten by Eva's former pimps, who insult Bruno, pull his accordion apart and humiliate him by making him kneel on his grand piano with bells balanced on his back. Faced with the prospect of further harassment, Bruno and Eva decide to leave Germany and accompany Bruno's eccentric elderly neighbour Scheitz (Clemens Scheitz), who was planning to move to Wisconsin to live with his American nephew Clayton.
After sightseeing in New York City they buy a used car and arrive in a winter-bound, barren prairie near the fictional town of 'Railroad Flats'. There Bruno works as a mechanic with Clayton and his Native American helper, Eva as a waitress at a truck stop and Scheitz pursues his interest in animal magnetism. The pair buy a trailer which is sited on Clayton's land, but as bills mount, the bank threatens to repossess it. Eva falls back into prostitution to supplement her wages, but it is not enough to meet the payments. She tires of Bruno's drunken ramblings and deserts him by leaving with a couple of truck drivers bound for Vancouver.
A man from the bank (Scott McKain) visits Bruno, who is now drinking steadily, and has him sign off on the repossession. The home is auctioned, and he and Scheitz, who is convinced that the world is conspiring against him, set off to confront the "conspiracy." Finding the bank closed, they hold up a barber shop beneath it, make off with 32 dollars and then go shopping in a small store across the street. The police arrive and arrest Scheitz for armed robbery without noticing Bruno.
Holding a large frozen turkey from the store and the shotgun, Bruno returns to the garage where he works, loads the tow truck with beer, and drives along a highway into the mountains.
Upon entering a small town, the truck breaking down, Bruno pulls over to a restaurant, where he tells his story to a German-speaking businessman. He then starts the truck, leaves it circling in the parking lot with a fire taking hold in the engine compartment and goes into a tourist trap across the street, where he starts a ski-lift and rides it with his frozen turkey. After Bruno disappears from view a single shot rings out. The police arrive at the scene to find the truck is now fully ablaze. The film ends with a sequence showing a chicken dancing, a duck playing a drum and a rabbit riding a toy fire truck, in coin-operated attractions that Bruno activated on his way to the ski-lift.
Stroszek was conceived during the production of Woyzeck, for which Herzog had originally planned to use Bruno Schleinstein in the title role. After believing Klaus Kinski to be more suitable for the part, Herzog specifically wrote the leading role in Stroszek to compensate Schleinstein for his disappointment over Woyzeck. The film was written in four days and uses a number of biographical details from Schleinstein's life.
Parts of the movie were shot in Nekoosa, Wisconsin and in a truck stop in Madison, Wisconsin. Other parts of the film were shot in Plainfield, Wisconsin. Herzog had planned to meet documentary filmmaker Errol Morris in Plainfield to dig up the grave of infamous killer and body snatcher Ed Gein's mother, but Morris never showed. The concluding scenes were shot in Cherokee, North Carolina.
Film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports a 100% approval critic response based on 14 reviews, indicating "Fresh" and an average score of 8.2/10. Vincent Canby of The New York Times gave the film a positive review, stating, "It's a 'road' picture. In some distant way it reminds me of Easy Rider, but it's an Easy Rider without sentimentality or political paranoia. It's terrifically, spontaneously funny and, just as spontaneously, full of unexpected pathos." Geoff Andrew of Time Out said, "Although relatively indulgent for Herzog, the film's comedy works well enough, because Herzog's idiosyncratic imagination finds an ideal counterpoint in the bleak flatlands of poor white America. His view of that country is the most askance since the films of Monte Hellman. For all the supposed lightness, it is the film's core of despair which in the end devours everything."
In popular culture
- It is known that one of the last things Ian Curtis of the band Joy Division did, just prior to committing suicide in 1980, was watch the film, as well as listen to Iggy Pop's The Idiot. The ending scenes of Stroszek appear in the 2002 film 24 Hour Party People and the 2007 film Control, during scenes which recreate Curtis' final moments.
- An audio clip of dialogue from Stroszek is used at the end of "Bilar" as it leads into the beginning of "Drugs" on the 2010 album LP4 by Ratatat.
- Herzog, Werner; Paul Cronin (2003). Herzog on Herzog. London: Faber and Faber. p. 142. ISBN 0571207081.
- Thomas, Rob (July 30, 2007). "Director Herzog: 'Dawn' is Americana". The Capital Times. The Capital Times Company. Retrieved November 3, 2013.
- Ebert, Roger (July 7, 2002). "Stroszek (1977)". Chicago Sun-Times. Sun-Times Media Group. Retrieved November 3, 2013.
- "Stroszek (1977)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved November 3, 2013.
- Canby, Vincent (July 13, 1977). "Movie Review -- Stroszek". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved November 3, 2013.
- Andrew, Geoff (June 24, 2006). "Stroszek | Review". Time Out Magazine. Time Out. Retrieved November 3, 2013.
- Curtis, Deborah. Touching from a Distance: Ian Curtis and Joy Division, London: Faber, 1995 (2nd ed. 2001, 3rd ed. 2005). ISBN 0-571-17445-0
- McGrath, Bryden (June 3, 2010). "Album Review: Ratatat". The Daily of the University of Washington. University of Washington. Retrieved November 3, 2013.