In an unadorned room of a police station, a dwarf is seated on a chair, holding an identification number in his hand. He is photographed and then interrogated about acts of violence he committed during a revolt. The story thus turns back in time, to when the dwarfs, detained in a correction facility, took advantage of the director’s absence to rebel. Once they take the headmaster hostage – he does nothing but laugh and shout declarations of revenge – the group is free to act as they please. The setting is distressing and sinister, where each event is more surreal than the last: the dwarfs sink into acts of vandalism and gratuitous cruelty to things and people, in a crescendo of frenzy and madness. —Thessaloniki International Film Festival
One of the most influential filmmakers in New German Cinema and one of the most extreme personalities in film, Werner Herzog quickly gained recognition not only for creating some of the most fantastic narratives in the Film history, but for pushing himself and his crew to absurd and unprecedented lengths, again and again, in order to achieve the effects he demanded. Born Werner Stipetic in Munich on September 5, 1942, Herzog came of age in Sachrang, Bavaria, amid extreme poverty and destitution. After Herzog turned seventeen, a German film producer optioned one of his screenplays, then promptly destroyed the contract when he discovered the author’s age. Circa 1962, 20-year-old Herzog enrolled in the University of Munich as a history and literature student, and produced his first motion picture, the twelve minute Herakles, his second short Game in the Sand, and his third, the pacifist tract The Unprecedented Defense of Fortress Deutschkreuz.In 1963, he established his own production… read more
Like a Diane Arbus picture come to life. Dissonant, piercing canvas, though it’s hard to dispute there being life, if a motley semblance of one, in Herzog’s frame - its oblique social depictions, (other)-worldly engagement. And yet, this inebriated bugfuck of a sophomore work leaves only nonplussed recoil - arising gleefully anarchic, but with little discernible sense of rhyme or reason yet to draw upon, leaving it to be a chaotic, disassociated montage. Highlight: monkey crucifixion (alternatively: How to Reduce a PETA Member to Tears in Under 90 Minutes).
The inmates of a bleak and desolate institution take over and run amok while its director is away. Total anarchy ensues.. Throughout a long and eclectic career Herzog has always sided with the outsiders of society and no more so than in this eccentric entry on his filmography from the early years of his directorial career. Undoubtedly not for everyone, this extremely unusual and flamboyant film is an acquired taste..
I liked much of this as an attempt to subvert. However, I did have a problem with the choice to have grown men and women acting like children. Even dwarfs started small, but here i feel like either a) more could have been done with the script to develop characters and a stronger sense of conflict or b) the casting of dwarfs was a ploy and perhaps a bit disrespectful in retrospect. A fine line between absurd and perverse.