Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s controversial, fifteen-hour-plus Berlin Alexanderplatz, based on Alfred Döblin’s great modernist novel, was the crowning achievement of a prolific director who, at age thirty-four, had already made forty films. Fassbinder’s immersive epic, restored in 2006 and now available on DVD in this country for the first time, follows the hulking, childlike ex-convict Franz Biberkopf (Günter Lamprecht) as he attempts to “become an honest soul” amid the corrosive urban landscape of Weimar-era Germany. With equal parts cynicism and humanity, Fassbinder details a mammoth portrait of a common man struggling to survive in a viciously uncommon time. —The Criterion Collection
Rainer Werner Fassbinder (May 31, 1945 – June 10, 1982) was born into a cultured bourgeois family in the small Bavarian spa town Bad Wörishofen. Raised by his mother as an only child, the boy had only sporadic contact with his father, a doctor, after the divorce of his parents when he was five. Educated at a Rudolf Steiner elementary school and subsequently in Munich and Augsburg, the city of Bert Brecht, he left school before passing any final examinations. A cinema addict (“five times a week, often three films a day”) from a very early age, not least because his mother needed peace and quiet for her work as a translator, “the cinema was the family life I never had at home.”
Fassbinder made his first short films at the age of twenty, persuading a male lover to finance them in exchange for leading roles. He also applied for a place at the Berlin Film School (dffb), but was refused. He acted in both his early films: DER STADTSTREICHER (The City Tramp), which also featured Irm… read more
CC#411: Tides of compassion & cynicism, morality and depravity, in constant struggle. Fassbinder finds as much an outlet in the debauched cabarets of Weimar Germany as from the grey despair of his West Germany, as well as in Lamprecht’s towering performance as his sanguine middle man. Ups and downs in his odyssey, but when it’s not bogged in murkier introspection, soap opera, dogma or mere longueurs, Fassbinder’s cinema blazes with lurid lighting, lurching pans and an unrelenting score, culminating in its gaudy mascara-laden coda. A cinematic weltanschauung if ever was one.
On September 5, 2008, 400 people, including directors Romuald Karmakar, Volker Koepp, Rosa von Praunheim and Andres Veiel, in 80 teams fanned
I used to hate voice-overs. Then I watched Berlin Alexanderplatz. After going through the exhausting, verbose voiceover in Querelle (for the sake of an otherwise great film), I was prepared for more… read review
First they worm their way into your heart and then they spring their nasty surprises. Only, you are not a saint, you are just as bad as the worst of them. The only difference is that you know it. You… read review
Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s detailed and sprawling 14-part adaptation of Alfred Doblin’s 1929 modernist tract is one of the director’s most revered films, brutalized in its day for over indulgence… read review