Thursday, December 25, 2008

Bruno S: A Spell of Songs

We extend holiday greetings to you by passing on this article about Bruno S., the star of two films by Werner Herzog in the 1970's - Stroszek, and The Enigma of Kasper Hauser: or, Everyman for himself and God against all. You can watch a video of Bruno play "Dear Mamatschi" on the accordion - his version interpolates "Holy Night" and "O, You Merry."

NYT - "From Berlin's Hole of Forgottenness, a Spell of Songs"

"he occupied the roles of damaged characters so completely and genuinely, so uncannily, that it was never quite clear how much he actually understood about what use was being made of him by the director. His performances were riveting, but he was obviously not well mentally, and even as he came across in his own way as knowing, he was at the same time simply being himself, and the question hovered: How much was fiction, how much reality?"

"He has been working on the same painting at least since the late summer, protecting it under layers of newspapers, towels, pens and paint, which he peels away, as one doffs heavy clothing.

The picture shows a vast conflagration. A vase falls from a tottering column, which Bruno explains is the incident that started the fire, a recurring dream he has about Berlin. A man flees; another screams. Above it all the symbol of the city, the Berlin bear, wears a golden crown, surrounded by a rain of black crosses.

“I gave the Berlin bear a solemn crown, but when your mother town is estranged from you, death can’t be far away,” Bruno said, cryptically as usual.

“I wish she could see it," he said, now talking about his mother. “If she did, she would die straightaway of a heart attack because she would see her son’s death.”

He calls her Mrs. Bremse, which translates both as “brake” and “horse fly.” It turns out that he had been playing all those months ago near the church up the street from us because his brother, long dead, used to live in the neighborhood."

1 comment:

katia said...

Werner Herzog’s “Stroszek” (1977) is a surrealistically stylized saga about the trio of European eccentrics’ awkward attempts to settle into American freedom. The film concentrates mainly on the psychological, not material problems of the emigrants, and, through analysis of their encounters with life provides thoughtful criticism of American viva-survivalism, money-fetishism, a lack of disinterested intellectual energy, excess of consumerist ecstasy, and a drastic disproportion between a dominant physical relations with nature and a rudimentary spiritual one. The European refined but infantile narcissism meets the American rational but de-sublimated one with tragic consequences for the main characters whose emotional refinement and “poetic” non-practicality turn against them in an atmosphere of pop-sensibility and fake prosperity. The film analyses two types of socio-political power – traditional (direct and obvious), and the innovative and post-modern - financially and economically manipulative. Herzog’s imagery in this film delivers existential meaning with socio-psychological straightforwardness and yet is aesthetically independent from it and “fetishistically” enjoying itself with all its beauty. Visual images in “Stroszek” intrigue and astonish us while their meaning makes us bitterly laugh. The film forces us to question ourselves as Europeans (by our past), as Americans (by our present and future) and as human beings in general. Please, visit: to read the essay about “Stroszek” – “A Surrealistically Comic Parable about European Escapees to American Freedom: From Europe to US – From Narcissistic Self-image to Narcissistic Systemic Logic” (with analysis of clips and stills from the film), and also articles about films by Godard, Resnais, Bergman, Kurosawa, Bunuel, Bresson, Antonioni, Pasolini, Alain Tanner, Cavani, Bertolucci, Fassbinder, Wenders, Rossellini, Moshe Mizrahi and Ronald Neame.
By Victor Enyutin