Manic deutsch duo Herzog and Kinski shot this in five days (in 1979) both knackered from just having finished shooting Nosferatu. Rumour has it that for the opening scene, Kinski instructed the actr playing the drill sergeant (?) not to both staging the kicking but to just go ahead and actually kick him. Is this method acting?
Either way, as in Fitzcarraldo, the fact of them making this movie casts their real-life selves as characters not unlike those they are portraying (ie mad bastards).
Redeeming them might be some sense that this film makes in the context of German theatre, film, expresssionism and culture. It isn’t much fun. It’s certainly not light. If you don’t think it’s packing a punch, you pretty soon realise that it is.
Must now watch: “Nosferatu: Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht” (Herzog & Kinski in 1979), “Nosferatu” (FW Murnau in 1922), “Metrolpolis” (Fritz Lang, expressionist), “the Cabinet of Dr Caligari” (also expressionist), Madame Dubary (ditto).