The story of a long weekend at a secluded Franconian country estate. As a surprise to all parties concerned, the property owners meet there, although they had assured each other that they would be gone on business travel in very different directions. Those who meet are the couple Ariane (Margit Carstensen) and Gerhard Christ (Alexander Allerson) and their respective lovers Irene (Anna Karina) and Kolbe (Ulli Lommel). The mansion is maintained by the devious housekeeper Kast (Brigitte Mira) and her son Gabriel (Volker Spengler). Totally unexpectedly, another party arrives: Ariane and Gerhard’s mobility-impaired daughter Angela (Andrea Schober) and her mute governess Traunitz (Macha Méril). This is a bizarre group of people who are filled with hatred and mistrust, jealousy and sadism. Acting out of injured love and wounded self esteem, the child carries the conflicts of this tense assembly of individuals too far: She asks all present to play “Chinese Roulette,” a game of truth. Emotions that were suppressed for years and deep frustrations lead to an explosion. A gunshot rings out. —Rainer Werner Fassbinder Foundation
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
An amazing film. So acutely and classically composed, so many things shot through glass, so well-blocked. The story teeters on melo-drama but it does a good job of playing out an unusual situation with dramatic consequences. The acting is generally good, although Volker Spengler as Gabriel has some hilariously bad moments. I'm interested in checking out more of Fassbinder's filmography. Any recommendations?
the sinister mansion and the camera works add to the eerieness of the film; chinese roulette. the camera does a vertical pan, going upwards and creates little pockets of suspense to this psychological drama. the much unsaid can be inferred from the eyes of the protagonists as this film creates an emotional cache which gets a final explosion in the end and the entire pent up feeling gets a vent with the gunshot.
English Title: Chinese Roulette
Original Title: Chinesisches Roulette
Country: West Germany, France
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Director: Rainer Werner… read review