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Invincible (2002)

Jouko Ahola , Tim Roth , Werner Herzog  |  PG-13 |  DVD
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Jouko Ahola, Tim Roth, Anna Gourari, Max Raabe, Jacob Wein
  • Directors: Werner Herzog
  • Writers: Werner Herzog
  • Producers: Gary Bart, Christine Ruppert, James Mitchell, Lucki Stipetic, Michael André
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (DTS 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: New Line Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: June 3, 2003
  • Run Time: 133 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00008Y47R
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #150,669 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Invincible" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Only Werner Herzog could turn the factual story of Invincible into a timeless allegorical fable. This is unmistakably a Herzog film--the director's first narrative feature in a decade--exposing evil in the stage show hosted by the cynical occultist Hanussen (Tim Roth), whose Berlin nightclub entertains Nazi officers on the eve of Hitler's rise to power. This arena of pre-Holocaust amusement is ill-prepared for the disruptive influence of Zishe (Jouko Ahola), a burly Polish blacksmith recruited to play a strongman in Hanussen's act. When Zishe announces his Jewishness to the crowd, thus attracting a Jewish audience to Hanussen's Aryan enclave, his simple act of bravery represents a pivotal affront to Nazi pride, with entirely unexpected results. Finnish body-builder Ahola is Herzog's daring experiment--a nonactor (and it shows) whose likable nature is starkly contrasted with Roth's manipulative malevolence. As Zishe so innocently demonstrates, resistance may be hazardous, but it's not always futile. --Jeff Shannon

Product Description

Based on a true story, this is the compelling tale of a simple Jewish man who leaves his humble village to become a mythical strongman in Berlin.

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape
Zishe Breitbart (Jouko Ahola) is a Jewish blacksmith in a rural Polish village in 1932 when he successfully challenges the Strongman in a visiting circus. A talent agent in the audience proposes that the young man travel to Berlin where there are greater and more profitable audiences for a man of his talents. Once in Berlin, Zishe is employed by Haussen (Tim Roth), an occultist who owns a popular theater specializing in spectacle. Mr. Haussen understands his audience well and strives to show them what they want to see, which at that time was a salve for German egos bruised by World War I and fodder for German egos looking forward to renewed greatness under the rising Nazi tide. Haussen is pleased to add Zishe to his show, but insists that he "Aryanize" himself in order to please and not offend the customers. So Zishe puts on a blond wig and takes on the stage persona of "Siegfried The Iron King", and the audience adores him.

"Invincible" is a true story, written and directed for the screen by Werner Herzog. The story is so odd and obscure that I am not tempted to question its veracity; no one would make it up. It is also an odd enough tale to overcome the film's length and deliberately slow pace. There are long periods of time where nothing happens in this movie. Unless you are fascinated by occultist dinner theater in prewar Germany -which is somewhat cheesy by today's standards- the long stretches where the story just plateaus are likely to wear on your nerves. On the other hand, it is interesting to observe the particulars of these shows and of their audience. They provide some insight into the collective self-image in Germany between wars and how political extremists were able to exploit that to advance their own agendas. The performances in "Invincible" are all impressive.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Where are the oscars? September 9, 2003
Now someone tell me...Why does this film get lost between the cracks and movies like The Pianist and Schindler's List don't? For me this movie touched upon issues I have never seen in a movie about this era. Everyone should view this film. It is a beautiful well made fable with terrific acting, cinematography and a heartbreaking score by Hans Zimmer. One of Herzog's best and most accessible films.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Invincible" obsession September 1, 2007
author of Cooking Jewish: 532 Great Recipes from the Rabinowitz Family

from the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles
August 30, 2002

In the 1920s, the son of a destitute blacksmith from Lodz, Poland, amazed the world with his feats of strength. Heralded as the modern Samson and the Iron King, Zishe Breitbart became a Jewish folk hero, twisting bars of iron, pulling trains by his teeth and killing bulls with his fists.

While other kids heard bedtime tales of princes, frogs and giants, my brother, Gary Bart, and I were weaned on the Circle of Death, a motordome balanced on the strongman's chest bearing two motorcycles chasing each other in a circle.

The fact that a Jew had become famous for his strength was remarkable; the fact that he was a cousin was riveting.

While I moved on to other things, the little boy who was my brother -- so fascinated with the strongman's heroic deeds that his friends actually began calling him "Zishe" -- became obsessed, and when "Invincible" opens in Los Angeles in September, my brother, the producer, will have realized a lifelong dream.

"I felt since childhood that I was on a mission to discover everything about him," he says, "and tell the world that at a time when there was a great perception of Jewish weakness, there was an enormously strong Jew who defended and inspired his people."

My brother's quest led him through archives and libraries where he discovered that almost everything written about Breitbart was in Yiddish, German, Polish, Czechoslovakian -- everything but English.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
I saw Werner Herzog's would-be comeback movie in it's English-language version, although it actually appears to have been shot in English as per most of the bigger budget European films. The film found little favor either with critics or at the box-office, but it still has much to commend it.

Although a significant supporting character rather than the titular lead, it's a far more accurate portrait of famed German psychic-showman-conman Erik Jan Hanussen, the 'prophet' of the Nazi Party, than Istvan Szabo's Hanussen which, like Colonel Redl, took ample liberties with the facts to make dramatic capitol albeit with less success. Herzog's film has it's historical failings to - in truth Hanussen's downfall was linked to his prediction of the Reichstag Fire and the large number of IOUs senior he collected from senior Nazi Party members, including Goebbels and Himmler. But by linking his fate to that of the Jewish strongman he promotes as the Aryan Siegfried (in real life the two men were professional rivals), Herzog does offer a convincing portrait of the dilemma facing Jews in the early days of Nazi Germany: do you hide and assimilate to earn their approval or do you assert your identity all the stronger?

For Hanussen, the answer is to latch onto the rising star of the Nazi Party in the hope that money and power can insulate him (and in truth he was Hitler's personal clairvoyant and, shortly before exposed as a Jew by the communist press, in line to head the Nazi Ministry of the Occult: Hanussen privately wrote that he thought Nazi anti-Semitism was mere electioneering and that Hitler could be swayed by 'good Jews'). Ultimately he fails because underestimates the savagery and severity of the baser instincts he taps into.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Werner Herzog's 'Invincible'
It's fascinating how a stream of good films are coming out of Germany in recent years, revisiting that ghastly period of German history when Hitler rose to power. Read more
Published 5 months ago by robert
4.0 out of 5 stars The hazzard is screamingly obvious, but the protagonists can't accept...
We could, I suppose, spend a few minutes browsing all the spoilers in the reviews and spare ourselves the somewhat lengthy screenplay. But let's not! Read more
Published 8 months ago by Jonathan Hansen
4.0 out of 5 stars This shouldn't have fallen beneath the cracks
A fascinating, almost mythic story, made even better by the fact that it's based on a real one. More should have seen it when it came out. I'm glad I did eventually.
Published 12 months ago by Stephen Van Eck
5.0 out of 5 stars **RATING FOR THE MOVIE *INVINCBLE*
Published 14 months ago by jack armstrong
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable but flawed.
Tim Roth portrayed the ambitious magician perfectly. There was just enough mystery concerning his character to keep you interested throughout his part of the movie. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Diane Rath
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
Even Herzog's worst is still worth watching once. His biggest mistake is casting a real strongman who simply cannot act. Read more
Published on July 10, 2012 by mr. contrarian
4.0 out of 5 stars Sturdy Film, Not Herzog's Finest
Invincible is like its main character, sturdy and a little slow. Although a very good film, it's not one of director Werner Herzog's better efforts, as the film tends to stay at a... Read more
Published on May 13, 2010 by Glenn Gallagher
4.0 out of 5 stars Zishe, Siegfried or Samson?
Poland : 1932. Zishe Breibart is the son of a humble Jew blacksmith who causes sensation in the Berlin of Weimar as lusty of mythological times. Read more
Published on February 18, 2010 by Hiram Gomez Pardo
1.0 out of 5 stars not great
this wasn't a great movie. bad acting. story was patchy. things would happen with little or poor segway, and you have to think for a sec and then "oh...ok... Read more
Published on February 25, 2009 by Liz
4.0 out of 5 stars Different kinds of bravery
What attracted me to this film is that it is made by Herzog Werner and it is based on the real character. It is 1930s and Nazis are getting politically stronger. Read more
Published on July 14, 2008 by Reader
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