I’m a student pursuing a fairly ambitious degree, I work, and I think it’s safe to say this film is a large investment of time.
Though I like much of Fassbinder’s work, most of it seemed detached from my reality as I was not an alienated member of the working class during Germany’s rebuilding period. So…
Do you find this film to have a great deal of value and / or relevance to a 22 year old kid growing up in post-modern New York? Is it entertaining? What makes it come so highly recommended among film enthusiasts? Things like that don’t generally concern me when giving new titles a shot, but when it comes at the expense of 15+ hours, I’d prefer to absorb as much as possible and not have it all go right past my head.
Thanks ahead of time.
I’ll put it this way. It had a great deal of value and was relevant to me, a 15 year old kid growing up in a California suburb.
The film is so brilliant, because not only is it a very political and historical film, but it also gives us a large number of characters that we get to know very well and grow to love (or hate).
It needs the 15 hours in order for us to fully understand these complex characters.
I really don’t want to talk about it further, in fear of giving something away, but I just want you to know that its one of my favorite films of all time, and I think it is without a doubt worth the time!
Checkout this old thread:
Yes, it is definitely worth the time and effort if you like something that is dense and unsparing. It is Fassbinder’s masterpiece and unique in every respect. Not for the faint of heart, though. I don’t think it is necessary to be familiar with the Weimar period in Germany (the build-up to the Nazis) for this film, although some background info wouldn’t go amiss – even if gleamed from the internet. It is much more of a character study, but there is definitely an element of political/social analysis going on. The series works on several levels. You don’t need to watch it all at once – but just as you wish. Don’t miss it, if you are into Fassbinder, it is essential viewing.
Also, all that Drew says above (noted it after I posted this). Mind you, Drew may be typical of this site, but not a typical 15 year old from anywhere. He – like some of our other precocious teenagers on site – is as unique as this film. But you can take him at his word.
Joe, Out of curiosity, over how many days did you watch the film?
Drew – To be perfectly honest (for once in my life), I did quit at the end of the first disk (after a couple of episodes) at the slaughterhouse scene. I went back and finished it a few months later – and was happy I did. I wish Justin Vicari (formerly Justin Biberkopf) was still on site. He was mainly the one to convince me to continue – I owe him that. He has done a lot of excellent writing on Fassbinder and is a bit of authority on him. I am a bit squeamish, but I persevered through the rough bits, and glad a did. I now think it a masterpiece, as I am sure you do, too.
for Roger…my musings on Berlin Alexanderplatz: The story of Franz Biberkopf,man-meat-automaton,who is given the opportunity to “grow a soul”,thus becoming an actual Human Being. I saw the televised version,in episodes,in the early1980s.Fassbinder seems to have translated the essence of the novel to the screen.
A difficult fim to watch (as the novel is difficult to read):difficult because (if one has the capacity to do so)it forces one to feel deeply,think in a sustained manner & observe one’s thoughts & feelings at the same time as one follows the story. In other words,an exercise in both consciousness and conscience,perhaps furthering the germination of the seed for the growth of one’s own soul……
As far as relevance of Weimar-era Germany to “postmodern NY” ,lets take two short quotes from the novel:
“The Tenants Protection Law is a scrap of paper.Rents increase steadily.The professional middle-class is being put on the street and strangled,the sherrif has a rich harvest…..The Private Protection Agencies watch everything..” even more amusingly relevant: “There is objecivity in the air,in the air there is objectivity,there it is in the air and it’s in the air,in the air.In theair there is something idiotic,in the air there issomething hypnotic,it’s in the air,it’s in the air,and it won’t get out of the air.”….quite so…Weimar Germany,“postmodern” Amerika,no difference,no change,same-same.. Doblin(& Fassbinder) had a penetrating spiritual & psychological insight . Watch the film in its’entirety,it will do something for you as a Human Being…I’ll also recommend Jodorowsky’s “El Topo” & Pasolini’s “Salo” as two more films,which like “BerLin Alexanderplatz” might lead to some much-needed restructuring of the Automatic Consciousness (which is really no Consciousness at all). Thanks for taking the time to read this,hope it was useful for you.
If you think feel Fassbinder’s other movies….
“seemed detached from my reality as I was not an alienated member of the working class during Germany’s rebuilding period.”
Though it does take place in an earlier era in Germany’s history. Alexanderplatz will not convince you otherwise. While it’s themes are universal, I would recommend it only to those who truly enjoy RWF’s other movies and can’t get enough. It’s held in high regard, because it is intelligent and ambitious, especially for a TV series.
sadly i just had to sell it to pay rent, but thank god for libraries.
The tone is unlike any other film show I’ve seen: simultaneously so brutal and poetic. And damn, Franz and Reinhold, what absolutely brilliant characters. Fassbinder refuses to water anything down here, he presents human beings in all their monstrous glory.
That said, this is probably the least accessible film I’ve ever seen. In many ways this is more of a prolonged play than a film, per se, comprised mainly of set-pieces with individuals talking to each other. You need to have a real love of the dialogue (which is fantastic) to make it through.
Agreed about the tone. There are some moments in the film which are so raw and almost frightening, while there are others which are almost heart warming.
I think the film can really be relevant to anyone. It is so broad and gives an incredible in depth view of an ex-criminals life.
I am about two-thirds of the way through this film, and it is not an easy task for me. The color brown is overwhelming in this film, everything seems to be of that color. The pace is glacial and the dialogue is sometimes boring, and Fassbinder seems content to have it so.
It seems like I am “doing my duty” as I watch this film, but on some level I do enjoy it, most likely because the performances are so wonderful. It’s mighty heavy stuff, though.
Fassbinder read Doblin’s novel as a teenager and Identified with it so much he used the pseudonym “Franz Walsh” for his work as an editor.
Fassbinder wanted to be an artist whose films that were universal and transcended it’s specific national boundaries and topical value, to the extent that his films are filled with a lot of deliberate odd bits, like the strange(to German ears) accents in The Merchant of Four Seasons for example. So I don’t see what being “an alienated member of the working class during Germany’s rebuilding” has anything to do with it. Actually it has a lot to do with attacking the mechanics of societal exploitation of human relationships and emotional vulnerabilities which needless to say can easily apply to “a post-modern New York” landscape, which is weird because people act as if there was a New York that was not post-modern. It was post-modern from the very beginning(as seen in Gangs of New York).
Besides, Berlin Alexanderplatz is fairly remote from the post-war Germany literally, since Alexanderplatz fell into East Berlin and Fassbinder had to make do with left-over sets from Ingmar Bergman’s The Serpent’s Egg. And Fassbinder said that the book wasn’t really about the Alexanderplatz and that it was just the background.
Fassbinder’s films all revolve around the theme of love and how one person can be exploited by another, regardless of the specific context. I watched virtually all of Fassbinder’s films while at university and while I do not share his background, I found his work utterly compelling. Anyone doing a film degree will do themselves a complete disservice not watching this film (and Fassbinder’s other work). And yes, its very entertaining.