Rainer Werner Fassbinder – Effi Briest (1974)



Description: Maybe Theodor Fontane does not belong to the outstanding writers of world literature (he would be too provincial for the whole wide world perhaps), but nevertheless, his poetic realism and his sophisticated powers of observation lead his stories to a deep, often radical criticism of social conventions.

That’s probably the reason why Fassbinder adopted Fontane’s most famous novel “Effi Briest” – to tell the story from the writer’s very point of view, as far as possible and to make the social mechanisms of oppression and the assimilation of the individual to that obvious. His concern is already pointed out in the exceptionally long title of the film, which I can imagine is the longest in history and translates something like this: Fontane – Effi Briest or: Many who have a notion of their abilities and needs and nevertheless accept the current regime in their minds through their deeds and therefore stabilize and pretty much affirm it

The atmosphere of coldness, of distance (which is, thanks to Fassbinder, at times really excruciating), of alienation is thematised through the cinematic techniques: mirror shots of the actors with a sometimes very blurred camera, misalignment of the camera by statues, flowers or curtains, cross-fades of dialogues and blindingly white fade-outs which sometimes abruptly interrupts a scene. In this sense, Fassbinder tightened Fontane’s criticism to a maximum, but he wouldn’t be Fassbinder otherwise