Rainer Werner Fassbinder

  • Rainer Werner Fassbinder – Despair (1978)

    1971-1980ArthouseDramaGermanyRainer Werner Fassbinder

    Germany in the early 1930s. Against the backdrop of the Nazis’ rise, Hermann Hermann, a Russian émigré and chocolate magnate, goes slowly mad. It begins with his seating himself in a chair to observe himself making love to his wife, Lydia, a zaftig empty-headed siren who is also sleeping with her cousin. Hermann is soon given to intemperate outbursts at his workers, other businessmen, and strangers. Then, he meets Felix, an itinerant laborer, whom he delusionally believes looks exactly like himself. Armed with a new life insurance policy, he hatches an elaborate plot in the belief it will free him of all his worries.Read More »

  • Rainer Werner Fassbinder – Whity [+Extra] (1971)

    Drama1971-1980GermanyRainer Werner Fassbinder

    From “Three Film Buffs”
    Whity is a strange but beautiful movie. It is a German language western set in 1878. The only time any English is used is during the songs sung by the saloon whore who performs like she’s in a cabaret in Berlin in the early 1930’s. It was shot in Spain on the sets of Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns starring Clint Eastwood.

    The bizarre story (believe me this is unlike any western you have ever seen) centers on the title character – real name Samuel King – the bastard son and slave to the wealthy Nicholson family. The father is a sadistic son of a bitch whose favorite form of punishment for his grown-up sons is a buggy whip. In one scene Whity willingly steps in for one of his brothers and takes the beating for him.Read More »

  • Rainer Werner Fassbinder – Acht Stunden sind kein Tag AKA Eight Hours Don’t Make a Day (1972)

    Drama1971-1980ArthouseGermanyRainer Werner Fassbinder

    Stories about workers determined to use their own initiative

    On October 29, 1972, the first part of Fassbinder’s five-part family series flickered across West German TV screens. Over the next months, the public broadcaster ARD showed all five episodes, in each case on a Saturday evening in the prime-time slot: I. Jochen and Marion, (October 29, 1972), II. Grandma and Gregor (December 17, 1972), III. Franz and Ernst (January 2, 1973), IV. Harald and Monika (February 18, 1973), and V. Irmgard and Rolf (March 18, 1973). Ratings during this time ranged between 45 and 60%, figures comparable with those for the broadcaster’s top-rating crime series TATORT.Read More »

  • Rainer Werner Fassbinder – Das Kleine Chaos AKA The Little Chaos (1966)

    1961-1970CrimeGermanyRainer Werner FassbinderShort Film

    Theo, Marite, and Franz cannot make any money selling magazines door to door, so they try a little robbery.Read More »

  • Rainer Werner Fassbinder – Fontane Effi Briest (1974)

    1971-1980ArthouseDramaGermanyRainer Werner Fassbinder


    It’s a non-traditional black and white film based on the 1894 novel by Theodor Fontane. It’s for an audience that is more aware and welcomes something addressed to the intellect, rather than the way the average casual moviegoer sees a film expecting a story handed to him on a silver platter with a beginning, a middle and an end (usually a happy ending). This is not a film for the casual moviegoer or the critic chasing down blockbusters. Director-writer Rainer Werner Fassbinder has said “It’s a film that really only works in the German language.” What makes the film so difficult for an outsider, is that much of Fontane is nuanced only for the German and therefore someone unfamiliar with the finer cultural points or historical facts will have a tough time of it. Fassbinder based the film on the parts of the novel by Theodor Fontane he agreed with (discarding the parts of the book he disagreed with) and did not make it into a topic about a woman as the title would suggest (a debate grew between the film’s star Hanna Schygulla, who wanted to play it as a story about the titular character; thankfully she couldn’t budge Fassbinder off his intended aim to keep it as a societal moral play and as a result we have a film that is full of conviction and as faithful to a book as you can possibly be).Read More »

  • Rainer Werner Fassbinder – Chinesisches Roulette AKA Chinese Roulette (1976)

    1971-1980ArthouseDramaGermanyRainer Werner Fassbinder

    A wealthy couple, with a daughter Angela, a young teen who walks with crutches, tells each other they are off for the weekend on business (he to Oslo, she to Milan). Actually, both are meeting their lovers, and both go to the family’s county home, Traunitz castle. Surprising each other, there’s sophisticated laughter; they decide to continue as planned. Dinner, however, is interrupted by the arrival of Angela and her mute attendant, also named Traunitz. The next day, the child initiates a game of “Chinese roulette,” in which one team tries to guess which of them the other team is thinking of by asking questions. The game has an edge of cruelty and the results are explosive.Read More »

  • Rainer Werner Fassbinder – Liebe ist kälter als der Tod AKA Love Is Colder Than Death (1969)

    1961-1970CrimeDramaGermanyRainer Werner Fassbinder

    For his feature debut, Rainer Werner Fassbinder fashioned an acerbic, unorthodox crime drama about a love triangle involving the small-time pimp Franz (Fassbinder), his prostitute girlfriend, Joanna (future Fassbinder mainstay Hanna Schygulla), and his gangster friend Bruno (Ulli Lommel). With its minimalist tableaux and catalog of New Wave and Hollywood references, this is a stylishly nihilistic cinematic statement of intent.Read More »

  • Rainer Werner Fassbinder – Rio das Mortes (1971)

    1971-1980DramaGermanyRainer Werner Fassbinder

    In the opening scene of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Rio Das Mortes, Hanna Schygulla repeats to herself a passage from a childcare book about achievement, indirectly teasing the two protagonists who are to be introduced later. Mike and Günther, feeling unfulfilled by infrequent employment and soured relationships, decide to unravel the mysteries of a treasure map, plotting a trip to Peru in the hopes of finding gold. Mike’s girlfriend Hanna doubts the men’s ability to organise such an excursion, but is crushed when they succeed, and tries to find whatever means she can to stop them.Read More »

  • Rainer Werner Fassbinder – Fox and His Friends aka Faustrecht der Freiheit (1975)

    Drama1971-1980GermanyQueer Cinema(s)Rainer Werner Fassbinder

    As great as it is merciless, a film that inevitably precipitates violent disagreements, Fox and His Friends (the rhyming German title of which roughly translates as Fists of Freedom or, better, Might Makes Right) is the male mirror of The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant: a portrait of class exploitation and emotional sadomasochism amongst a group of homosexuals. Fassbinder plays Fox, a carnival entertainer who wins a lottery and thereby becomes an alluring object of desire for an antiques dealer who is on the verge of bankruptcy. The posh businessman takes the naïve carnie as his lover and introduces him to the world of Munich’s upper-crust gays, with tragic results.Read More »

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