Germany, 1947, 101 min, b&w
In German; English subtitles
Set Design
Costume Design
Music (Score)
Production Company


While an anatomy seminar prepares to examine the cadaver of Franz Wozzeck in the name of scientific progress, medical student Büchner excoriates humanity for having allowed Wozzeck’s fate. The tragic story unfolds in flashbacks, as Büchner narrates.


Wozzeck, a poor and simple soldier, endures humiliation and brutality at the hands of his military superiors. Willing to give all to support his beloved Marie and their son, Wozzeck even agrees to undergo dangerous medical experiments. But when a handsome major seduces Marie, Wozzeck is able to contain himself no longer.


Soon after the end of WWII, the director brought together a surprising range of German filmmakers, including costume designer Walter Schulze-Mittendorff (MetropolisThe Ruler), cinematographer Bruno Mondi (Jew SuessKolberg), set designer Hermann Warm (The Cabinet of Dr. CaligariThe Dreyfus Case) and actor Kurt Meisel (Final AccordKolberg).


This film is endowed with exceptional visual power—both sharply realistic and uncannily visionary. Klaren used expressionist elements to explore German predispositions to militarism and fascism. Although officials praised the first post-war literary adaptation and used it for re-education in the early postwar years, it disappeared from the screen after the formalism debate in the 1950s.

Press comments

"A Trümmer film without the ruins, translating the 19th-century play into contemporary terms for a shell-shocked German audience, while attempting to reestablish ties to a radical, democratic literary tradition that had been obliterated by the Nazis."
— Jan-Christopher Horak, Director of the UCLA Film & Television Archive


"A dialectical Marxist experiment in expressionism. An extremely astonishing work!"
— Austrian Film Museum


"Bruno Mondi's dizzying, subjective camera angles capture the world from the hero's disoriented perspective."
— The Concise Cinegraph: Encyclopaedia of German Cinema


Buy the DVDStream
DVD Bonus Features:
  • New digitally restored version
  • New English subtitles
  • Turn subtitles on/off
  • Biographies and Filmographies
  • "Postwar Traumas in Klaren's Wozzeck" by film scholar Jan-Christopher Horak
  • "Traces of a Forgotten Man: Biographical Fragments on Director Georg. C. Klaren" by film historian Ralf Schenk
  • "In the Land of Darkness, Pain, and Suffering: János Szász' Woyzeck" by Jason Doerre, UMass Amherst

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