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Fassbinder: The Exploitability of Feelings

MUBI Special

“Every decent director has only one subject, and finally only makes the same film over and over again. My subject is the exploitability of feelings, whoever might be the one exploiting them. It never ends. It’s a permanent theme. Whether the state exploits patriotism, or whether in a couple relationship, one partner destroys the other.” —Rainer Werner Fassbinder

The Marriage of Maria Braun

Rainer Werner Fassbinder West Germany, 1979

The grand finale of our Fassbinder focus comes with his biggest box-office success. An emblematic collaboration with cinematographer Michael Ballhaus—who has just died and whose genius we celebrate—featuring an unforgettable performance by Hanna Schygulla, this is (German) cinema at its finest.

Fox and His Friends

Rainer Werner Fassbinder West Germany, 1975

Next stop in our journey across the 70s work of Germany’s most brilliantly defiant filmmaker is double trouble. Fassbinder both directs and stars in this controversial, unabashedly bitter and biting drama of class exploitation and queerness, that mercilessly puts human nature under the microscope.

Effi Briest

Rainer Werner Fassbinder West Germany, 1974

Our series continues with one of Fassbinder’s superb literary adaptations, along with Genet’s Querelle and Nabokov’s Despair. The German enfant terrible takes Fontane’s 1985 novel to the screen with mischievous grace with Schygulla gloriously embodying the tragic heroine. Plus those mirror shots!

Ali: Fear Eats the Soul

Rainer Werner Fassbinder West Germany, 1974

The pinnacle of Fassbinder’s infatuation with Sirk’s cinema, this homage to All That Heaven Allows—both films would inspire Haynes’ Far From Heaven—is a masterwork of revisionist melodrama. Imbued with unexpected tenderness, its portrait of racial and class struggle is a fierce cry for humanity.

The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant

Rainer Werner Fassbinder West Germany, 1972

An all-female melodrama directed by Fassbinder? Count us in. We reach a camp peak in our retrospective with this fiery, fervent love-and-hate story for the ages, a sly game of power that breathes excess as much as it displays masterful control. Beware, this is cinema of unparalleled intensity.

The Merchant of Four Seasons

Rainer Werner Fassbinder West Germany, 1971

We’re ecstatic to present a focus on one of the most rebellious and relentless auteurs of all time. Tragically dying at 37, Fassbinder made over 40 films—several already in the pantheon of Cinema. The Merchant inaugurates his 70s formal sophistication, channeling a deep admiration for Douglas Sirk.

Life is too short for bad films

Every day we hand-pick a beautiful new film and you have a whole month to watch it, so there’s always 30 perfectly curated films to discover.