Country: WEST GERMANY
One of the meta-narratives or major thematic concerns that preoccupied the generation of filmmakers that made up what scholars termed ‘New German Cinema’ was coming to terms with, and exploring, the cultural colonisation wrought on West Germany in the aftermath of World War Two by America. Wim Wenders approached the subject from the perspective of cinema itself in The American Friend (1977) and Kings of the Road (1976) and throughout his career revised the form of the road movie for a generation of alienated Europeans. Rainer Werner Fassbinder opted to explore the question through a reconstitution of Hollywood genre - most notably the Sirkian melodrama of films such as Fear Eats the Soul (1974). Whilst the films of these two ‘New German’ heavyweights were by no means conventional, Werner Herzog’s single contribution to this ongoing narrative is a truly wacky and oddball take on the subject. Stroszek was Herzog’s sixth fictional feature film and it was his first, and to date last, to be set (albeit partially) in contemporary West Germany. Up to this point Herzog had preferred to set his films in the past and in some cases on other continents, and used the storytelling method of allegory, metaphor and symbolism, to make comments on Germany and its recent past. In Stroszek Herzog concocted a narrative (partially based on the childhood experiences of Bruno S.) that enabled him to formulate his view at the time of both West Germany and America. Like most filmmakers of that generation Herzog’s vision is deeply ambivalent, but ultimately he suggests that all countries are alike in the manner in which they can crush the life out of their citizens - the only difference is in the method.