A Werner Herzog movie from 1977 starring Bruno S and Eva Mattes (both Herzog veterans). The movie follows the character Stroszek, who has spent most of his life in institutions and jails, and his girlfriend Eva, a prostitute, as they move from Germany to Wisconsin in hopes of finding a better life.

They don't find it. They gain and lose a relationship, a trailer home, a tenuous place in the world. He does find a dancing chicken, though, and a ski lift, in the final sequence: one of the more strangely lovely evocations of a lonely, lonely, hopeless mind that has, in the end, given up.

Stroszek, as a character, does not know how to relate to the world. He's been in prisons and things, not because he is bad, but because he's been in prisons and things. If i remember correctly, he was an orphan - he grew up surrounded by lack of choice and lack of love. When he is released, he finds himself at much the same "here is the real world, now what shall I do?" position as many young people just out of school. Except without the education or support network. Like them, he drinks. Like many, he will try any scheme that seems likely and trust anyone who says they care.

The movie is chilling and yes, depressing. It struck me as a movie, above all, about America - as if this were the stripped-down, abstracted, worst-case scenario of what happens to all of us. Unprepared, unable to communicate, thrust into an alien world which makes demands, lies to you, and steals back what it first offers. This is not a movie for people who don't like dark, cold movies. Watch a Hollywood film if you want to see the official American movies. But for ones that capture the feel of the country, imho, try this, or another by a German filmmaker, Paris, Texas.

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