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The most comically inept bank robbery in cinematic history?,
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This review is from: Werner Herzog Box Set 2 [DVD] (DVD)
I bought this set under a misapprehension. I remember years ago when I was doing my degree watching `The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser' and being impressed. I thought Herzog's was the version I saw, but alas it is not. (I located another version on DVD but it's not that one either!) How enigmatic!
Anyway, having been impressed by Herzog's boxset of films that he did with Klaus Kinski (see my review), I was really looking forward to seeing those contained in this boxset. Unfortunately, the news is not good. The set contains some worthwhile films, but also the worst film in my entire extensive collection. One unfortunate aspect is that Herzog continues to be blind to the sufferings of the animal world.
All of the films in this set come with accompanying commentaries with Herzog. These commentaries are valuable, for Herzog is never less than interesting in what he has to say and never less than articulate in the way he provides his explanations. His insightful anecdotes say as much about him as about the films, and one feels one could never be bored in his company.
The first film (worth four stars) is `The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser' (1974) and is, in my opinion, the best of the lot, despite the problem of the recently-deceased (but then forty-one-year-old) Bruno Schleinstein playing the part of a supposed adolescent. Bruno's unpredictable naivety is often mesmerising, however, and there is a good supporting cast in this tale of the boy who had been locked in a Bavarian cellar for most of his formative years.
The second film in the set (and indeed Herzog's own second film) is `Even Dwarfs Started Small' (1969), filmed in black & white in Lanzarote about a colony of little people mirroring the joys and darkness of society at large. In his commentary, Herzog talks of this film being "a profound nightmare ... the darkest of comedies ... painful to watch" at times. For me, it was a continuous nightmare, one of the worst films I have seen: I give it just one star. All that it demonstrated was that their lives are just as infantile and as boring as our own. There is nothing redeeming about the film at all.
I give the third film in the set, `Fata Morgana' (1971), two stars. It is certainly a product of its time, possessing an often surreal documentary form focussing on the mirages of the Sahara Desert. Whilst I found the examples of actual mirages quite eerie, much of the film has the feel of an amateur's holiday; and like all holiday films, you really had to be there to enjoy it! This is a rare instance where the commentary is far more interesting than the film itself. Herzog says his film is not a documentary but a succession of visions: "I just filmed whatever fascinated me", but the film becomes more bizarre as it progresses.
`Heart of Glass' (1976) returns us to historic Bavaria in the tale of a town's descent into chaos. The novelty of this film is that most of the actors worked under hypnosis, but the result is that the narrative takes second place to the bad acting, the wooden words, the strange gestures, the often deadened pace. Where Herzog talks of inner poetry in the performances, I only saw laboured prose. It is hard work, saved by some beautiful shots of nature. I am being generous in giving it three stars.
The final film, `Stroszek' (1976), sees the return of Bruno Schleinstein in the title role, as he reprises certain semi-autobiographical aspects of his life. In what is arguably Herzog's most accessible film, Stroszek leaves behind his life in seedy Berlin for a new life on the bleak plains of Wisconsin, culminating in one of the most comically inept bank robberies in cinematic history.
The film is worth three stars, which is what I would give the box set overall, but I certainly prefer the Herzog/Kinski collection to the mixed bag presented here. But this set comes in a nice presentational slipcase with additional notes.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 4 Apr 2011 00:40:38 BDT
Mr. C. De Mello says:
May I suggest wearing some kind of hat with a peak, such as a baseball cap. It may prevent things going right over your head.
In reply to an earlier post on 5 Apr 2011 14:23:01 BDT
Nicholas Casley says:
But there is no hat large enough for my head!
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