Cleveland International Film Festival } March 22 – April 1, 2023 } Playhouse Square

STROSZEK: A BALLAD

Year: 1977
Country: West Germany
Run Time: 108 minutes

STROSZEK: A BALLAD

Herzog is regarded as the "wunderkind" of the New German Cinema, which also includes such gifted young filmmakers as R.W. Fassbinder and Wim Wenders. All three artists share a fascination with American popular culture, a tendency to use allegorical forms and a Bunuelian flair for the grotesque. All of them make films that look like stoned home movies, with scenes of heartbreaking poignance alternating with comic grossness. Herzog calls his movie a "ballad," but perhaps parable or fable would be more accurate. "Strangers in a Strange Land" would be an appropriate title for virtually all of his films, for they deal with spiritual exiles trapped in mysteriously threatening environments. In STROSZEK, for example, three endearing if none-too-bright pilgrims abandon the harshness of Berlin to seek their El Dorado in the Promised Land of America - northern Wisconsin, to be exact. Their leader is Herr Scheitz (Clemens Scheitz), a frail eccentric in his 70s. Eva (Eva Mattes) is a naive hooker who defies Pavlov's laws by resolutely refusing to learn from experience. Weirdest of all, Stroszek (Bruno S.) is a sweet innocent buried in a hulking body that doesn't seem to connect with his brain. They begin their odyssey in the dead of winter, with practically no money and even less English. Critic Andrew Sarris observed: "At times it seems that Herman Hesse and Franz Kafka had collaborated on a Zen remake of 'Easy Rider.'" Like most of Herzog's movies, STROSZEK abounds in haunting images, brilliantly evocative metaphors and eruptions of sardonic wit. His vision of the human condition is perhaps best represented by the scene in which a doctor shows Stroszek a premature baby, hardly any larger than a fist, clinging ferociously to life despite the harshest odds against survival.

Screenplay
Werner Herzog

Producer
Werner Herzog

Cinematography
Thomas Mauch

Editing
Beate Mainka-Jellinghaus

Principal Cast
Bruno S., Eva Mattes, Clemens Scheitz, Wilhelm von Homburg, Burkhard Driest, Pitt Bedewitz, Clayton Szalpinski, Ely Rodriguez, Alfred Edel, Scott McKain, Ralph Wade, Dr. Vaclav Vojta, Micheal Gahr, Yucsel Topcugurler

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