I know next to nothing about Fassbinder. He is just one of these oft-named directors that I wished to know more about. So, recently, I saw my first Fassbinder, The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant. I really didn’t like it…at all…not one bit. It was disappointing, both as a Fassbinder film and as a film of its subject matter. Now, what I’m wondering is whether Bitter Tears is similar to his other works. I’ve been trying to seek out Ali: Fear Eats the Soul, but I’m thinking if it’s similar to Bitter Tears, I might cut my losses with Fassbinder.
I haven’t seen Ali: Fear Eats the Soul but I had a similar reaction to Fassbinder when i first looked at his work. Not much seems to be going on visually and the film stock looks pretty cheap in some of his work. i went back later on and suddenly I could see his style shining through. Try The Marriage of Maria Braun as a gateway to RWF.
Fear Eats the Soul is an amazing film. It’s just simply wonderful. So far that’s my first and only Fassbinder, and I must say I’m quite strongly compelled to watch his entire body of work after that. I’d say you deffinately should’ve seen Ali first, as it’s commonly referred to as the best entry point to his work if I’m correct. Deffinately, DEFFINATELY watch Ali:Fear Eats the Soul. It’s a great film. I’ll be trying Maria Braun next. From what I’ve heard and read and assume about Bitter Tears, it’s nothing like Ali, but that’s free to be corrected as I haven’t seen it.
I’ve seen both “Bitter Tears” and “Ali” and agree that these two films are rather unlike. “Bitter Tears” was based on a theatre play and was shot in interior locations in just about 10 days, while “Ali” is a broader film in terms of space and time, though claustrophobic in a different sense, but rather relates to his earlier “Katzelmacher” and Douglas Sirk’s melodramas than to “Bitter Tears”. I would also recommend to not give up on Fassbinder because of an initial disappointment, the first Fassbinder I watched many years ago was “Effi Briest”, and I didn’t appreciate its minimalism at that time, but meanwhile I’ve come to like many of his works, and think that “Berlin Alexanderplatz” and “Effi Briest” are likely his greatest masterpieces (among those I’ve seen).
I also agree, you should NEVER give up on a director because of a bad first impression. I hated 8 1/2 when I first saw it, but I’m so glad I gave Nights of Cabiria and La Strada a shot. (I’ve even come to love 8 1/2 recently)
Anyway I can’t reccomend Ali enough. I’ll be the first to admit I need to see way more Fassbinder, but I think I’ll avoid “Bitter Tears” for now. It doesn’t seem like I’ll enjoy it either honestly.
I’ve seen both “Bitter Tears” and “Ali” and agree that these two films are rather unlike.
That’s a daring statement, Anthony. Do you have any arguments to back it up?
Roger Michell’s The Mother sort of plays out like Ali: Fear Eats the Soul in whiteface.
Loved – The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant
Hated – Ali: Fear Eats the Soul
Ali is a heart-felt story.
Thus…placing yourself in the pantheon with the elite. I congratulate you.
I strongly recommend Ali: Fear Eats the Soul. That’s the only Fassbinder films I’ve seen, but it left quite an impression.
I strongly recommend Bitter Tears. It’s my favorite Fassbinder to date, actually.
Fassbinder made an enormous numebr of films in his short, intense and wildly controversial life. No single film “typifies” him. “Ali: Fear Eats The Soul” is one of his best and most acessible. “The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant” is brilliant but I woudln’t use it as an introduction to Fassbinder.
To gt more of a handle on his oeuvre you should next got to “The Marriage of Maria Bruan” — one of his biggest hits that put him on the map internationally. “Berlin Alexanderplatz” is essential viewing, but it’s a multi-part mini-series and requires time and attention. Seek out “Fox and His Friends” and "Martha — the latter containing the most amazing tracking shot in the history of the cinema.
You should also look for “Lola,” “Beware of a Holy Whore,” and “Querelle.”
Shakha, I think what made me seek out more Fassbinder films is that I saw Ali: Fear Eats the Soul first. When I saw Petra for the first time, I didn’t really understand it or enjoy it that much. However, I watched a bunch of his other films and then rewatched Petra and seemed to get it a lot more. The commentary for Petra was also one of the best I had ever heard. I recommend listening to the commentary track the next time you watch it. But wait awhile until you see Ali and some of his more accessible films. My favorite ended up being Fear of Fear.
Beware of a Holy WhoreFox and his FriendsLove is Colder Than Death
After you’ve seen those, if you still dislike Fassbinder then I suppose you’ve given him a fair shot. Ali isn’t bad either, probably the most accessible overall.
_“Ali: Fear Eats The Soul” is one of his best and most acessible. “The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant” is brilliant but I woudln’t use it as an introduction to Fassbinder.-
@David Ehrenstein – That shot is one of my favorites!
I’ve seen seven of his films now, and they’re all pretty different.
I mean ‘Ali’, although it’s a powerful, gutsy little film, is aesthetically a little rough around the edges- compare that to Effi Briest, which is very restrained but one of the most perfectly composed and visually elegant films I’ve ever seen.
You should definitely try some more-maybe ‘Fox and his Friends’ or ‘Effi Briest’, perhaps?