Margot’s (Margit Carstensen) and Kurt’s (Ulrich Faulhaber) marriage happens smoothly and without much ado but also without great emotion – an inconspicuous relationship of the type one tends to call harmonic. Margot and Kurt live in Kurt’s mother’s (Brigitte Mira) house, where his sister (Irm Hermann) and her husband (Armin Meier) live as well. This is a source of friction, sometimes even open conflicts, especially when the mother forcefully intrudes into Margot’s life. Since funds will be limited until Kurt finishes evening classes, these conditions are accepted, even by Margot: One must try to fit in and one must learn to subordinate oneself if circumstance so demands. Also, Margot has plenty to divert her thoughts: She must take care of the household and of Kurt, and after all she also has to look after Bibi (Constanze Haas), the daughter Margot loves more than anything else in the world. Possibly Bibi is the only human being in Margot’s life she really loves unconditionally and with her whole heart. And this is reciprocal. One early and ordinary spring day – Margot is pregnant with her second child – the frail idyll bursts apart, and all of a sudden Margot’s life has changed. Out of the blue, Margot gets anxiety attacks – a fear she is incapable of describing to anyone, let alone know its reasons or even what exactly Margot is scared of. As a result of her husband’s and her family’s helplessness and because the doctors are clueless (at times they diagnose depression, at other times schizophrenia and prescribe tranquilizers) Margot withdraws increasingly into herself. She knows that in the future she will live with her fear of fear and nobody will be able to help her. —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
Near-middle-aged woman is struck by the fear of something (embodied by Kurt Raab) and goes downhill psychologically. The exact identity of that something is not revealed, but I'll bet it's got something to do with middle-class ennui.
All of the performances are brilliant, especially the central one from Margit Carstensen.
Reminding one of Sartre's "Nausea", this film has a strong 20th century existentialist premise, but the strange, unmoving, overly dramatic style of acting combined with uninspired sounds - that seem to come from the early 'romantic' era of Hollywood - make this minor Fassbinder film rather unimportant.