Today, in his weekly “The Forgotten” column on Mubi D. Cairns introduces us to Nobody Wants to Play With Me, a 1976 West German educational film about a kid who is always excluded by his classmates; the 12-and-a-half-minute film, starring a cast of little kinder, was directed by Werner Herzog, who apparently found time to do it in between The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser and Heart of Glass. The film was made, its a title card announces, under the auspices of Institut für Film und Bild in Wissenschaft und Unterricht (“Institute for Film and Picture in Science and Education”), and aims to demonstrate nonjudgmental outer-directedness for preschoolers.
And it’s on YouTube! Here’s Part 1:
Some thoughts, and Part 2, after the jump.
The simple, childlike dialogue, and the guilelessness of the structure, are appropriate for the intended audience, but also recognizably Herzogian in their arbitrary, almost comical intensity. The often whispered dialogue has an alien purity, and the narrative seems to proceed trustingly, by almost cosmic logical leaps. The outcast comes from a background so matter-of-factly gothic, he even has a talking crow for a pet.
The plasticity interior decoration, all brooding, synthetic primary colors against a neutral field, and the scratchy, miniature clothes, recall a late-Cold War-era Northern European childhood not so different, perhaps, than in Let the Right One In (or perhaps even your own). Let’s move along to the thrilling and instructive conclusion: