Movie Details

Werner Herzog returned to dramatic filmmaking for the first time in a decade with this historical drama, based on a true story, about a man who rose to fame and fortune in 1932 as the Nazis rose to power in Germany, only to renounce his career in order to stand beside his people as a symbol of strength and resistance. Zishe (Jouko Ahola) is a Polish Jew, and a blacksmith's son, who lives in a small town in Finland. A giant of a man with remarkable physical strength, Zishe is discovered by Landwehr (Gustav Peter Wohler), a theatrical agent who believes a successful nightclub act can be built around this Polish Adonis. Landwehr brings Zishe to Berlin, where he lands a spot in the revue of a nightclub run by Hanussen (Tim Roth), a stage hypnotist who claims to be a Danish nobleman with psychic gifts. Hanussen is also a confirmed anti-Semite who is in cahoots with many of the leading members of the Nazi Party, who are becoming a political force to be reckoned with. Zishe's act, in which he performs feats of strength while costumed as a Roman soldier, becomes a great success, but when he falls for Marta (Anna Gourari), a pianist at the club, he discovers he has a rival for her affection -- Hanussen, who is her lover but is also physically abusive toward her. One night, while performing for an audience comprised of Hanussen's Nazi friends, Zishe reveals to the crowd that he is actually a Jew. He soon becomes a champion of the Jewish cause and a hero to his fellow Poles, but earns the wrath of Hanussen and his comrades in the process. As he has often done in the past, Werner Herzog aimed for realism in his casting for Invincible; Jouko Ahola, who plays the Polish strongman, is actually a champion weightlifter from Poland, while Anna Gourari is known to music aficionados as a gifted concert pianist. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi