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Figlio di un medico e di una traduttrice, Rainer Werner Fassbinder nacque in Baviera nel 1946. Scappato di casa a sedici anni per darsi al teatro, nel 1967 approdò all'Action Theatre di Monaco [provocatori e agitatori all'insegna di espressionismo, assurdo e Handke (azione di strada, movimento studentesco ed operaio)] e l'anno successivo formò il gruppo Antitheater, che si esibì anche in un film di Straub. Il collettivo teatrale e il magistero di Straub sono anche all'origine dei suoi primi lungometraggi.
Sin da principio la sua attività fu immane: tre film nel 1969, più i testi scritti per il teatro , più trasmissioni radiofoniche, più i telefilm per la televisione di Stato (che ammontano a tredici dopo tre anni).
Il fenomeno Fassbinder va inscritto nel movimento giovanile del Sessantotto: la cultura tedesca ricevette un impulso propulsivo dalla rivolta totale, dalla critica rabbiosa che investì ogni aspetto della tradizione; gli eroi di Fassbinder sono gli emarginati: prostitute, delinquenti, negri, operai, immigrati, omosessuali, terroristi, donne; ad essi il regista oppone le schiere minacciose di borghesi dedite al miracolo economico, schiacciate fino alla pazzia dallo squallore della loro vita.
L'anarchico attacca l'ideologia borghese nel momento stesso del suo trionfo innalzando ad eroi le vittime di quel trionfo; la rappresentazione della civiltà tedesca avviene seguendo e sovvertendo i codici del melodramma più classico, quello di Sirk, peraltro viziate da un sarcasmo compiaciuto della teatralità della messa in scena.
2. Gotter der pest
Il ventiquattrenne Fassbinder esordi` con
Liebe ist Kaelter als der Tod/ Love is Colder than Death (1969) in bianco e nero, il primo di una trilogia di gangster films con al centro il menage a trois di un
gangster del racket, una prostituta e il suo pimp che e` un
La recitazione e` Brechtiana.
Il finale e` pero` un po' ridicolo.
Franz (played by Fassbinder himself) is reading the newspaper when another
man takes it from him. Franz knocks him out, demonstrating he's a tough guy.
Later Franz is blindfolded and interrogated by three men, two of them wearing sunglasses, one of these a black yankee, Raoul.
Being blindfolded, Franz cannot see the man asking the questions.
They want him to join the syndicate but he refuses.
They hit him in the head and leave him unconcious on the floor.
Then we see the close-up of a young man wearing a suit and tie like a respected businessman.
He warns Franz that it is dangerous not to do what the syndicate wants.
In the evening this young man, whose name is Bruno, and Franz and three other goons sleep on the floor, presumably all detained by the syndicate.
Franz tells Bruno that he loves a girl.
In the morning Bruno is tortured by the syndicate and dumped unconscious in
the room where Franz is waiting.
Franz is released and gives Bruno his address.
Bruno, always very elegant, takes a train and shares the compartment with
a sexy young woman who offers him an apple and tries to seduce him.
Bruno tells her that, as a teenager, he killed his father and then committed
other violent crimes.
Bruno rings the bell of Franz's apartment but he is told that he doesn't live
The place is a brothel and Joanna is one of the prostitutes.
The camera drives around the neighborhood at night and shows us the prostitutes lining up the sidewalks.
Bruno stops at a gas station and falls asleep. A prostitute walks into his car.
He tells her that he's looking for Joanna and pays to get her address.
Bruno finds Joanna and Franz together in their apartment.
Franz is in hiding because a Turkish immigrant wants to kill him to revenge a killing that Franz didn't actually comming.
Bruno suggests that Franz simply kills the man before the man kills him.
First the trio steal sunglasses from a department store.
Then they get a gun from a cobbler who also smuggles guns (and possibly Bruno shoots him with that gun but it is not shown).
Back at the apartment Bruno unbuttons Joanna's shirt while she is napping.
Franz watches as Bruno kisses her breast and then slaps Joanna in the face
when she laughs disrespectfully at Bruno.
We understand that Franz is her pimp.
The trio then meets the Turk in a cafe' and Bruno kills him.
Before leaving the cafe', Bruno also kills the waitress who has witnessed the
While they are walking away, a cop stops Franz and asks for id.
Bruno pulls out the gun and kills him.
Somehow (not shown) Franz is taken in by the police and interrogated.
The inspector guesses the motive of the killing of the Turk and would be willing to be lenient on Franz, but can't forgive the killing of the 19-year-old waitress.
Joanna finds Bruno at home and tells him that Franz will be released in the morning if they don't find any evidence against him.
She undresses and lies next to him. Then they go shopping together in a supermarket.
The following morning Franz is released. Bruno picks him up at the police station and they briefly stop at a bank.
Back home the three discuss robbing the bank.
One of Joanna's customers interrupts them and sees the gun. Franz brutally
beats him up. Bruno drags the unconscious body to his car, drives out of town,
dumps the man, still alive, in a desolate field and finishes him with a bullet.
Unseen by Franz and Joanna, Bruno meets with a member of the syndicate and we
realize that he has been following their orders. He is told to get rid of the
girl after the heist.
When the trio arrives at the bank, three men are standing outside, apparently
bystanders, but they are plainclothes cops and shoot Bruno.
Franz pulls out his gun and clumsily drags the unconscious Bruno into the car
(very implausible that three cops would such a clumsy punk to do this).
In the car Joanna confirms that Bruno is dead and Franz tells her to dump
him in the road (another implausible action).
Joanna confesses that she's the one who alerted the cops.
Franz lights up a cigarette, insults her and keeps driving.
La commedia satirica
Katzelmacher/ Troublemaker (1969), influenzata da Godard, e` il primo film in cui trapela il suo disdegno per il razzismo xenofobico: il "rompiscatole" è un immigrato greco alle prese con il problema dell'integrazione in un gruppo di giovani ariani che sfogano su di lui l'insoddisfazione per la vita grigia e monotona che conducono; sospettato di manie sessuali e di comunismo e del tutto ignaro del clima da caccia alle streghe che gli si sta creando intorno, il greco viene picchiato a sangue alla prima occasione; una ragazza che scorge nel suo sorriso l'unico raggio di sole nello squallore quotidiano del loro ambiente lo convince a restare.
Goetter der Pest/ Gods of the Plague (1969) continua la storia del suo primo film: il gangster appena dimesso dal carcere scopre che suo fratello è stato ucciso per aver fatto la spia e che l'amante l'ha piantato; ricompone una banda con un'altra ragazza, un gorilla e un vecchio del mestiere, ma muore durante la prima rapina.
Sirk e il gangster film, il giro della malavita come veicolo a una fatale disintegrazione, rigido spietato codice d'onore.
È il primo film "americano" di Fassbinder: un giovane cerca di emulare i mitici gangster americani, ma fallisce miseramente.
Nel 1970 Fassbinder gira sette film, compresi tre per la televisione.
Warum Langt Herr R Amok/ Why does Herr R Run Amok (1970) è invece il primo di una serie di ritratti sociologici sulla piccola borghesia tedesca: un rispettabile padre di famiglia, che da anni ha una vita normale fatta di ripetisioni di tanti piccoli atti, impazzisce senza motivo apparente, uccide la famiglia e poi si suicida.
Whity (1970), un altro saggio antirazzista, continua il filone naturalista del precedente fondendolo con elementi americani: un patriarca del profondo Sud ha una famiglia allucinante (un figlio omosessuale, un altro idiota, un terzo bastardo e mulatto) e quando essi cercano la sua complicità per sopprimere gli altri lui ne approfitta per sterminarli tutti; parte poi verso l'Est con una prostituta che lo ha sempre confortato, ma muoiono di sete nel deserto. Ancora un'atroce ribellione allo squallore della vita quotidiana e ancora un fallimento, l'impossibilità di costruirsi un'altra.
Der Amerikanische Soldat/ The American Soldier (1970) narra di un killer professionista assoldato negli USA dalla polizia per compiere una missione nella sua patria d'origine; lì ritrova segni della sua infanzia ma non cede ad alcuna commozione, compie freddamente e meccanicamente il proprio lavoro; anche lui finirà ucciso. Film noir fedele agli stereotipi del genere.
Warnung vor Einer Heiligen Nutte/ Beware of a Holy Whore (1970): la troupe di un film, in attesa del regista, consuma torbidi istinti in un albergo barocco in riva al mare; il regista sfrutta il clima di anarchia che si è creato, mentre la confusione viene via via accresciuta da fatti attinenti la lavorazione del film e sono proprio tali fatti a dargli la forma definitiva.
Haendler der vier Jahreszeiten/ The Merchant of Four Seasons (1971) è un nuovo dramma naturalista della monotonia quotidiana: un giovane irrequieto non trova la pace neppure nel matrimonio; colto da paralisi davanti alla prospettiva di un altro fallimento, viene sostituito (sia nel negozio che nel letto coniugale) dal suo infermiere: guarito, l'uomo si suicida ubriacandosi.
4. Petra von Kant
Il tema dell'omosessualità ritorna in
Die Bitteren Traenen der Petra von Kant/ The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972), film interamente girato in una camera da letto, che mostra l'incomunicabilità fra le persone che convivono ma costituiscono piccoli mondi separati (si vede l'influsso della sua formazione teatrale). Petra, modista di classe, tiene in un rapporto di vittima rassegnata la remissiva segretaria, mentre s'innamora morbosamente di un'amica più giovane. Nonostante la sua nevrotica gelosia non riesce ad impedire che l'amante ritorni dal marito; dopo una crisi isterica viene abbandonata anche dalla segretaria (che ha cominciato a trattare da amica), che fa le valigie in silenzio e resta sola. Un kammerspiel affidato alla tensione emotiva, allo scorrere del tempo, alla psicologia penetrante che mette in luce la crisi esistenziale di una borghese, il suo disperato bisogno di possedere una donna più sicura di lei, l'ineluttabilità dolorosa della solitudine. Il film è anche una sottile analisi del rapporto servo/padrone: il mutismo della segretaria, il sadismo di Petra nei suoi confronti, il cinismo dell'amante; è anche la storia di un'educazione sentimentale che però fallisce per effetto della componente "vampiristica" dell'amore borghese.
The film, an adaptation of his own play in five acts, has an all-female cast,
and takes place almost entirely in a bedroom.
On the surface it is a simple story of betrayal, of an old selfish and unhappy woman who is seduced and abandoned by a young and cynical one; but there is a third protagonist lurking in the background.
One wonders if Marlene, the mute spectator and slave, is not the real protagonist of the drama, the real victim of love.
And the real story could be a master/slave story.
Petra is famous and rich, but we only see Marlene working in that apartment.
It is possible that Marlene is so devoted that she creates the myth of Petra
the great fashion designer, and lets Petra take all the credit for it.
Maybe Petra's sadistic attitude towards Marlene is a recognition that she's been loving the woman who used her and betrayed her instead of the one who truly loved her.
The ending even turns the tables on the sadomaso relationship: once Petra is healed of her love pain for Karin, Marlene packs and leaves, as if she, Marlene, was the one torturing Petra with her mute devotion and now that Petra is ready to reciprocate Marlene is no longer willing.
It is very much "theater": a lengthy and verbose psychoanalysis of a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
Marlene wakes up Petra who had awful dreams. Petra calls her mother, who is
about to leave for six months in Florida. Her mother asks her for money.
Petra asks the silent Marlene to type a letter to Joseph Mankiewicz in which she simply tells him that she cannot make the payment.
She puts a record on and then dances with Marlene to the romantic music.
Petra opens a letter and found that a prestigious house wants to hire her to design their clothes.
She treats Marlene like a slave and Marlene doesn't speak.
Petra's cousin Sidonie comes to visit. They haven't seen each for three years.
Marlene watches from behind a glass wall, sad.
They discuss Petra's divorce. Petra claims that she asked for the divorce,
and her cousin is shocked.
Petra claims that her marriage began to disintegrate with her success as a
fashion designer, that hurt the pride of her husband Frank,
and she stopped loving him.
All the while she is smiling.
Sidonie talks about her marriage to her husband Lester, and claims they are finally found the right balance.
We learn that Marlene has been her assistant for three years.
While they chat, Marlene is working, always silently.
Sidonie is embarrassed when Petra begins to tell her details of how her husband sexually abused her.
The younger Karin arrives: Sidonie met her on a cruise and introduces her to Petra.
Sidonie and Karin leave, but first
Petra invites Karin to model for her and she accepts.
The following day, when the bell rings, Marlene is reluctant to open the door.
Karin comes in dressed in a sexy dress.
Petra is wearing a funny dress and a funny wig.
Karin has lived in Australia for five years and her husband is still there.
Petra encourages her to become a model and offers to help her financially.
Petra tries to find things they have in common, but
Petra comes from an intellectual family whereas Karin comes from a poor working-class family.
Petra had a happy childhood, Karin a miserable one.
Petra reveals that she has a daughter, although she rarely sees her: the girl is in boarding school.
Petra liked school, Karin didn't; Petra liked math, Karin hated it.
Petra believes in discipline, Karin in having fun.
While they chat, Marlene types frantically on the typing machine.
Karin tells Petra that her parents are both dead: her father killed her mother
and then killed himself.
Her father was an alcoholic and lost control of himself when he was fired.
Her marriage has not been any happier: her husband Freddy doesn't treat her well and she would like to divorce him.
Petra pledges to make her a top model.
Petra plays records of her youth and tells the story of her love for her husband, who died in a car accident four months before Petra gave birth.
Marlene stops typing and listens to Petra's story, then resumes typing.
Karin is staying in a hotel.
Petra invites her to move in with her and Karin accepts.
Months later, they have become lovers, and Marlene is still Petra's slave.
Petra tries in vain to convince Karin to go back to school.
Petra tells her "I love you" but Karin is indifferent and arrogant.
A jealous Petra asks Karin where she spent the night and
Karin coldly confesses that she has slept with a black man who was great in bed.
The more Petra inquires, the more cruel is Karin's description of the sex.
Marlene stops to listen to them and Petra yells hysterically at her.
Karin toys with Petra's feelings, and Petra cries.
Karin doesn't even know the name of the black man.
She tells Petra that every now and then she needs a man.
Petra gets drunk. Karin gets more and more annoyed by her depression.
Petra reads the newspaper article about her fashion designs (which are really made by Marlene) and shows Karin that there's a picture of her, the model.
Karin is excited to see her picture in the newspaper and finally tells Petra
that she loves her.
The phone rings. It's Freddy, Karin's husband, who is in nearby Switzerland.
He wants to meet her and Karin promises to fly to meet him.
Karin even asks Petra to book the flight for her.
The flight is full and Karin begs Petra to pay for first class.
Petra didn't know that Karin and Freddy were in contact.
Karin now tells her that she is not planning to divorce him anymore, and
Petra, realizing that Karin has always lied to her about her divorcing the
husband, insults her calling her a "whore" and Karin replies that it was easier
to be her lover than to work the streets.
Karin is obviously leaving Petra for good and getting back with her husband.
But then Petra gets on her knees and begs Karin to stay.
Karin simply replies that she is in a hurry and Petra spits in her face.
Karin swears to take revenge for that. Petra apologizes, and
Karin asks Petra for money. Petra gives her double the amount that Karin wants.
Then she gives the car keys to Marlene and tells her to take Karin to the airport because she, Petra, is too drunk to drive.
Some time later, Petra is lying on the floor, from which the bed has disappeared, drunk, in pain.
The phone rings and every time she
picks up eagerly but hangs up when she hears that it is not Karin.
She mutters that she hates Karin and some day she'll make her pay for this.
She mutters that she loves her so much.
Someone rings the bell and Petra rushes to open, and she's disappointed to
see that it's only her sweet teenage daughter Gabriele/Gaby.
We learn that it is Petra's birthday.
Gaby is happy to see her after a long time.
Gaby is in love with a boy who doesn't reciprocate.
The phone rings again, Petra grabs it, and again hangs up crying when she hears that it is not Karin.
Petra shouts hysterically to Marlene to bring the cake.
The bell rings again. It's Sidonie. Petra, disappointed again, breaks a glass.
Sidonie brings a birthday present: a big doll that looks like Karin.
Sidonie congratulates Petra on yet another successful fashion exhibition.
Marlene listens and stares from behind the wall of the other room, and we know
that it is Marlene who creates all of Petra's work, even if Petra doesn't give
her any credit for it.
Sidonie informs Petra that Karin phoned her earlier that day and that Sidonie
reminded Karin that it is Petra's birthday, and Karin is in town,
but Karin is now a successful model and too busy.
The bell rings again, and again Petra is disappointed to see that it is not Karin: it is her mother Valerie.
Petra, more and more drunk, throws a glass against the wall and tells them that they all make her sick. She tells her daughter that she hates her.
She calls of of them "parasites". She calls her mother a "whore" because she
never worked in her life and let her husband and now Petra herself pay her bills.
Petra starts smashing things around the apartment.
Her mother is shocked.
Sidonie tells her that it's about the lover who abandoned Petra.
Her mother is now shocked to learn that her daughter is a lesbian.
Petra tells them that Karin is the only person she ever loved.
The phone rings again and again Petra hangs up after hearing a voice that is not Karin's.
Petra crawls on the floor, crying, increasingly mad.
Petra kicks Sidonie out and Sidonie promises revenge.
Petra asks Marlene for more alcohol.
Then she realizes that everybody is crying and tells her mother that she wants to die.
At night Petra lies in bed and talks to her mother.
Marlene watches from outside the bedroom.
We learn that Petra is 35 years old and her father is dead.
Her mother tells her that she visits the tomb more often and goes to church,
that one is "alone without God".
Petra is now calm, sober and rational.
The phone rings. This time it is Karin. Petra tells Karin that she doesn't have time to see her. Petra then tells her mother that she can leave.
Petra alone with Marlene finally apologizes to Marlene for the way she has treated her. Marlene kisses her hand, grateful, but then starts packing her suitcase.
Petra stares smiling as Marlene closes the suitcase, picks up the Karin doll,
wears her coat and walks out. And then Petra turns off the light.
5. Wild wechsel
L'alternativa dei suburbi proletari con i "milieu" esclusivi della borghesia prosegue nel film televisivo
Wildwechsel/ Jail Bait (1972), adatatto da un dramma teatrale di
Franz Kroetz. Dramma di cronaca nera che ritorna al vigoroso naturalismo di "Haendler". Una ragazza viziata si alscia sedurre da un operaio più anziano, ma il padre (scoperta la tresca) non esita ad applicare la sua rigida morale e denunciare il seduttore; i due amanti possono vedersi soltanto di nascosto e, all'odio per il perfido genitore, si aggiunge la preoccupazione per lo stato di gravidanza della giovane, la quale non esita ad armare la mano dell'amato pur di eliminare il padre; lui finisce in carcere, lei in riformatorio e, dopo l'aborto, regredisce allo stadio infantile.
Ancora acuti conflitti psicologici, con ciascun personaggio arroccato nel proprio mondo egoistico, il padre nella sua morale perversa, la figlia nella sua sessualità animalesca, ciascuno vittima di ossessive frustrazioni. Fassbinder sfrutta il repertorio teatrale dell'espressionismo (le luci, le pause), di Brecht (la recitazione straniata), dell'iperrealismo americano.
La sterminata filmografia di Fassbinder si accresce di quattro/cinque titoli all'anno, parte per il cinema, parte per il teatro, parte per la televisione. Dopo uno sceneggiato televisivo che racconta la vita quotidiana di alcune famiglie-campione, un lavoro teatrale su una pluriomicida dell'Ottocento, Fassbinder dirige il suo Alphaville [Godard],
Welt am Draht/ World on a Wire, cupo apologo sulla manipolazione della vita intera da parte di un sistema tecnologicamente avanzato (il protagonista scopre di vivere in un mondo che è soltanto un'immagine computerizzata).
Fassbinder also directed between 1972 and 1973 the five episodes of the television miniseries Acht Stunden sind kein Tag/ Eight Hours Don't Make a Day,
his foray into soap opera.
Welt am Draht/ World on a Wire (1973), adapted from Daniel Galouye's novel "Simulacron-3" (1964), is a science-fiction thriller that weds
existential metaphysics and lurid decadence. A 205-minute colossus, it
it was made for television and
stylistically inspired by Jean Luc Godard's Alphaville (1965).
There are actually two conspiracies. One is inside the virtual world: the
corrupt chairman who is bribed by the steel magnate and wants the scientists
to cooperate; and the other one is outside the virtual world,
driven by people we don't see who are running the experiment.
The scientists are victims of both conspiracies: the corrupt chairman wants
them dead to get them out of his way, and the puppeteer (whoever he or she is)
wants them dead because they discovered that they live in a virtual world.
On a rainy day an important politician visits a high-tech laboratory.
The chairman of the laboratory, Siskins, is proud of project "Simulacron" and
asks the top scientist, Vollmer, to explain it. Vollmer, instead, sounds
delirious and even offensive. He provokes the politician by verbally attacking
him with a mirror, telling him that he is just the image that others see.
Aching from a strong headache, the scientist leaves them mumbling "poor worms".
A statuesque blonde that does not talk and does not move observes the scene.
Later the scientist chats with the chief of security, Lause, who is also his
brother-in-law. Fits of headache debilitate the scientist, who mumbles something
about the end of the world and then walks away (the camera races away from
him). The alarm sirene goes off. Lause rushes to the computer room and finds
Siskins throws a party at his galactic mansion. In one room a female singer
on a stage simulates a cabaret act for an audience of zombie-like spectators.
In another room there is a steaming pool with girls wearing bikinis.t the classy
bar another scientist, Fred Stiller, who is Vollmer's trusted assistant and
his best friend, is drinking indifferent to the attentions of an attractive
girl. Siskins offers him Vollmer's position: head of the laboratory. Around
them people eavesdrop but don't move, motionless like statues.
Gloria, Siskins' secretary, approaches him asking about Simulacron. Fred tells
her that it's a virtual world in which they have already programmed almost
ten thousand people who behave exactly like real people and do not know that
they are living only in a simulated world. The statue-like onlookers listen
to them mostly without moving.
Lause tells Fred that the death of Vollmer was "strange", and came right after
Vollmer had made a "shattering discovery"; but then suddenly
Lause disappears when Gloria walks in. The following day the newspaper
has an article on the mysterious disappearance of the chief of security.
Siskins is upset that Fred called the police. The detectives tell Fred that
he seems to be the only one who saw Lause at the party.
Fred has a nice and affectionate secretary and lover, Maja, although she behaves
in a weird, robotic manner. Fred walks to Vollmer's old office and finds a
young woman going through his papers: it is Eva, Vollmer's sexy daughter. Fred
picks up one of the papers and sees a drawing of Achilles and the tortoise,
a reference to Zeno's ancient paradox. Fred talks about the disappearance of
her uncle Lause, and is surprised when she says that she has no such uncle.
Suddenly the drawing disappears as Eva leaves the room.
Fred meets his friend Franz, the psychologist in charge of studying the
simulated people of Simulacron. He tells him of his doubts about Vollmer's
death, and of the mysterious drawing. A waitress dressed like she came out
of an old film listens openly to them and then disappears.
When Fred mentions Lause, his friend Franz corrects him: there is no Lause,
and the chief of security is Hans, who is sitting at the table next to them.
Fred runs away, not feeling well.
While he is walking in the street, he stops a funny girl and asks her for a
lighter. He narrowly escapes an assassination attempt, but the girl gets killed.
Fred calmly picks up the lighter and walks away.
Meanwhile, Siskins visits a magnate of steel and they make a deal.
The Simulacron is used to simulate the needs of society in the next few decades,
and Siskins promises that it will simulate a huge demand for steel.
Outside a stern reporter, Rupp, and his assistant spy on the meeting.
Rupp later stalks Fred in a parking garage to get his version of the
relationship with the steel conglomerate.
Fred is more interested in the disappearance of Lause and the death of Vollmer
than in the intrigue of the chairman. He looks up Lause in the laboratory's
directory but that name does not exist. He looks up Hans' name and the
computer confirms that Hans is the chief of security. In fact, Hans is standing
behind Fred and smiles at him like an old friend. Fred does not remember ever
meeting him or his wife Laura, contrary to what Hans claims.
Fred has only one friend in the lab: the computer operator, Fritz. Even Fritz
does not know any Lause.
Maja is replaced by the gorgeous Gloria as Fred's secretary, and Gloria starts
listening to all of Fred's conversations through the intercom. Sometimes we
see her face reflected in the crystall ball that lies on her desk.
Fred calls the police to ask how the investigation on Lause's disappearance
is going. The detective replies that he never heard the name and there is
no such investigation. Fred pays a visit to Maja, who is sick.
Siskins and the steel magnate talk to Fred inviting him to alter the
simulation so that it will forecast a huge demand for steel. Fred ignores them.
Fred is in the computer room, observing the monitors that show what is happening
in Simulacron and observing the experiment of a woman who is currently
in a millionaire's mind, when the police ask to see him. They are investigating
Vollmer's death. Fred has no alibi: he was alone in his countryside cabin when
Fred asks to enter the virtual world. He is given the mind of a truck drivers.
However, during the experiment, someone sabotages the computer and Fred almost
Fred has dinner with Eva. She has no memory of the drawing that Fred saw.
Fred tells her of his doubts about her father's death. They go for a ride.
Suddenly the world disappears for a few seconds. Then everything returns to
Fritz tells Fred that perhaps Vollmer made a mistake: one day a virtual person,
whose name was Nobody, committed suicide, apparently because he had found out
the truth about being just a computer simulation. Nobody has been erased from
the memory of every person in the virtual world. Fred plays with the name
of this Nobody and realizes that Zeno is just a code for that name (in German).
Gloria spies him nonstop.
Fred asks Fritz to send him again into the real world. Fred meets Einstein,
a sinister person who is the "contact", a sort of spy who knows about the
simulation while being a simulated person himself. His job is to report
any dangerous activity that goes on in the simulated world. Einstein confirms
that Nobody committed suicide because he had found out who (what) he was.
Einstein also begs Fred to take him with him to the real world: Einstein
wants to become a real person.
Just before returning to the real world, Fred sees Lause...
Fred now realizes that Vollmer had programmed Lause: Lause was just a
virtual person. Fritz is surprised when he finds the name, as Fred predicted,
in the list of people who had been designed/programmed by Vollmer in person.
Someone warns and threatens Fed in the street. Fred visits Franz, but the
psychologist simply tells him that he (Fred) is paranoid because he is
playing the role of God relative to the virtual world.
Gloria takes him to a fancy club in which young men and women dance naked.
She walks among them and morbidly touches the males, while Fred gets drunk.
He suspects that Vollmer was killed because he was standing in the way of
Siskins' illegal scheme, and that now they want to kill him (Fred) too for
the same reason.
Siskins calls for a press conference during which Fred explains what Simulacron
is: an artificial miniature world that is used by the government to simulate
the needs of 20 years later. The journalists then rush to the free banquet.
Rupp is the only one who guesses how Simulacron can be used to favor the
Eva too disappears, while Gloria is getting closer.
Siskins introduces Fred to his new assistant, Mark, who works for the steel
magnate. Fred understands the purpose (Mark has to do to the computer what
Fred refuses to do) and shows his hostility.
Eva finally picks up the phone: she did not disappear.
Fred realizes that Fritz is behaving like someone else. It takes him a few
seconds to realize that an accident has switched the minds of Fritz and Einstein the same way that they had switched the minds of the millionaire and of the
woman. Fred captures Fritz/Einstein and calls security. Fritz/Einstein
first begs to be allowed to live in the real world, then laughs at Fred and
tells him that he too is living in a simulation, and that's what Vollmer
had discovered. Once dispatched Einstein back to the virtual world and
recovered the real Fritz, they show their contempt for Mark, who is
responsible for the accident.
Fred goes to visit Maja again but is told that Maja was taken away by an
ambulance. Fred finds Franz in a bar, chatting with a sexy woman.
While staring at the woman, who listens indifferent, Fred tells Franz
what he has just found out from Einstein: they are all simulations of an
upper world, the
same way that their creatures in the lower worlds are simulations.
Franz laughs at him, but Fred is convinced that Vollmer had discovered the
truth and was "erased" by the upper people the same way that they
had Nobody erased: at each level those who find out the truth must be erased.
And Lause was erased from people's memories. Fred speculates that the upper
world must have a "contact" among them just like they have a contact (Einstein)
in the lower world. Franz is not convinced.
However, when Fred takes Franz to Maja's apartment, Maja is there. Maja tells
him that she just got back. And then kisses Franz while Fred is not watching...
Determined to prove that Lause existed, Fred visits Rupp at the newspaper's
offices and asks to see the newspaper's edition of the day after the
disappearance. Fred remembers reading an article about it, but the article
does not exist anymore. Rupp is skeptic but accepts to fax the journalist
who would have written such an article. Rupp is more interested in investigating
the friendship between the steel magnate and the lab's chairman.
Searching for the contact, Fred first tests the chairman by showing him
a simulation of himself (the chairman's) as a comedian living in the virtual
world. Then tests Mark. Both sound unaware of being simulations.
Meanwhile his headaches are getting stronger. He even collapses to the floor.
He behaves erratically at a meeting with the same politician of the first
scene. Siskins and Mark accuse Fred of assassinating Vollmer and of tampering
with the computer (in reality Mark's doing). The politician agrees, especially
when Fred refuses to defend himself; but is puzzled by the fact that Fred
started behaving exactly like Vollmer behaved. Mark is promoted director
of the lab, replacing Fred, who is now a wanted man.
Fred has a drink with Fritz and asks him if one can sense of being inside a
virtual world. Fritz tells him that sometimes there are glitches in the
software, during which reality disappears... just what happened to Fred when
he was driving with Eva.
Meanwhile, Rupp has received an answer for his colleague: the colleague confirms
that he wrote an article on the disappearance of the chief of security, whose
name was Lause.
Gloria confesses that she has been spying on him all the time. Fred knew
already. She did it for love and for money. She can't get rid of her obsession
for Siskins. They make love. Afterwards the camera shows them from above, as
if the ceiling was a giant mirror.
In the computer room Fritz confronts both Siskins and Mark, whose images are
reflected by mirrors.
Fred, protected by Gloria, has to run away when an ambulance shows at to take him to a mental asylum.
He drives to Eva's place but she has disappeared again. The police is closing
in on him but Rupp saves him and takes him to the newspaper's building.
There he sees Franz, who has been an informant for Rupp all the time.
Franz is kissing Rupp's assistant.
Rupp tells Fred that the article about Lause truly existed. This is the final
proof that someone has erased Lause from everybody's memories. Franz now believes him and is willing to help find the "contact". They take off in Franz's car.
Fred asks Franz to stop at a telephone booth. He calls Eva, who answers:
she is back again. Suddenly, Franz accelerates and drives the car into
the river. People rush to the spot. Fred is recognized by the crowd as the
wanted murderer and has to run. Fred hides in a club where a female singer
is imitating Marlene Dietrich. The waiter protects Fred when the police
walk in. Fred manages to reach his countryside cabin. When a car approaches,
Fred grabs his gun and shoots. He then realizes it's Eva's car. Eva is
not hurt. Loud electronic music hides their conversation. Eva tells him
that he has to leave. Then she walks into the woods. Fred runs after her
but she disappears. The headache is getting stronger.
There's only a dog that is about to leap at him:
Fred shoots and kills the dog.
Fred realizes that he never told Eva about the cabin.
Suddenly he guesses that Eva must be the contact, who is going back and
forth between the upper level and their level.
A tree falls and almost kills him, another assassination attempt.
Fred cries like a child.
Back in the house he shoots at a bird. Then he hears a rumble and jumps
in the car and speeds away: the house explodes. He hitchhikes to a ballroom
that feels like a dream in the past: Eva is there, dressed formally,
pulls out a gun, takes him to another room (walking through indifferent
dancers) and confesses to being the contact. The room is full of mirrors.
It turns out that Eva is in love with him. Fred is the simulation of a real
Fred, Eva's lover, but the real Fred is arrogant whereas the simulated Fred
is Eva's ideal man. She foretells him that he is going to be shot dead the
The following morning Fred walks to the institute.
Fritz has organized a strike to have him reinstated.
The crowd shouts "murderer". Fred climbs on the roof of a car and protests
his innocence. The crowd is beginning to listen when the police guns him
down. He dies on the roof of the car. And Fred wakes up in another room,
next to a different Eva: she has switched his mind with the mind of the
real Fred, so that the real Fred died while he, the virtual Fred, survived
and is now a real man in the real world. Back and forth: Fred dead on the
roof of the car in the simulated world (that initially we believed was the
real world), and Fred next to Eva in the real world.
Il film televisivo Martha (1974) è un altro dramma di donna: la giovane va sposa piena di speranze entusiaste, ma presto si rende conto che il marito nutre verso di lei soltanto morbosi istinti sadici; cerca allora di ricostruirsi una vita con un amico, ma lui muore in un incidente stradale e lei resta paralizzata su una sedia a rotelle in balìa del marito.
Tutte le storie di donne di Fassbinder si svolgono all'insegna di un malinconico pessimismo che le condanna a ritornare al punto di partenza con la coscienza di non poterne evadere.
Angst Essen Seele Auf/ Ali - Fear Eats the Soul (1974) e` un plagio di All that Heaven Allows di Douglas Sirk (1955) e tappa di avvicinamento al kitsch.
Sfondi folcloristici, storia di un'altra passione osteggiata da tutti (una sessantenne che si innamora di un immigrato Mussulmano vent'anni piu` giovane) e dai risvolti razziali ambientata nel proletariato, la sua meditazione antirazzista meglio riuscita.
7. Faustrecht der freiheit
Il tema omosessuale ispira un melodramma a tinte forti, Faustrecht der Freiheit/ Fox and His Friends (1975), che è anche un'altra riflessione amara del rapporto servo-padrone e un apologo pessimista sulla lotta di classe, sulle aspirazioni al benessere e all'eguaglianza sociale da parte della classe sfruttata; essendo interpretato in prima persona dal regista ed essendo dedicato al suo amante, il film ha un evidente valore autobiografico.
La trama ricalca tanti melodrammi hollywoodiani non appena si sostituisca Fassbinder con un'ingenua e buona ragazza di umili origini, sedotta e abbandonata da un cinico falso ricco.
Brecht-ian parable in which the good proletarian is screwed by the hypocritical burgeoisie.
The protagonist is a poor, uneducated, barely literate,
working-class young man who also happens to be gay.
He truly falls in love but is taken advantage of.
Humiliated and robbed, he dies alone like a rat, and young children of the
same bourgeoisie, who are being raised to be as cynical and amoral as their parents, strip his body of any valuables left.
Crowd at a traveling carnival in front of the pavillion of
"Fox, the Talking Head", a man with his head severed from his body.
A cop, inspector Braun, walks on stage, closes the show, arrests the owner, Klaus, and confiscates the cash.
"Fox", whose real name is Franz, is left penniless and jobless.
He is sure that he will win at the lottery but loses the only money he had.
He begs in vain his sister Hedwig, an alcoholic.
Obsessed with buying a lottery, Franz steals money from a flower shop and barely makes it to buy a ticket just before closing time.
He is picked up in a public restroom by an older rich gentleman, Max, and prostitutes himself.
Two weeks later Max introduces him to his rich friends, who look down on the
working-class Franz, but Max informs them that Franz has won the lottery.
Max's wife is indifferent: she knows of Max's many affairs with young boys.
Franz meets another young gay, Eugen, one of the rich ones who were making fun of him before learning of his lottery win. Now Eugen is all friendly.
Eugen takes him to his luxury apartment where the proletarian Franz doesn't know how to behave appropriately.
Nonetheless Philip seduces him and they have sex.
The following morning Eugen's boyfriend Philip rings the bell. Eugen initially
hides Franz in the bathroom but Philip guesses the truth in one second and leaves angry.
Later Eugen's father tells Eugen that he has to declare bankruptcy because the company is losing money. Eugen asks him to give him time to raise the money.
His friends at the gay cafe warn him that it is a dangerous relationship but he thinks they are just jealous.
Eugen takes Franz to a fancy restaurant where the menu is in French, and Franz
feels embarrassed that he doesn't know how to behave in a fancy restaurant.
Max and Philip walk into the same restaurant.
After spending the night together, Eugen and Franz visit Eugen's father at work.
they find him drunk.
Franz goes to a sauna by himself and meets Max, who is suprised to hear
that Eugen is isddenly involved in his father's business. Max tells Franz
that Eugen's father is bankrupt and that it might be a good time to invest
in his company.
Later Franz introduces Eugen to his sister Hedwig and then they go to the bank
where Franz withdraws a large amount of money.
Franz loans the money to Eugen's company.
The following morning Eugen is told to move out of his apartment because
the neighbors consider his lifestyle immoral.
Eugen tells Franz that he should invest in real estate and Franz accepts to
visit an apartment where Eugen imagines how he would furnish it.
Franz buys it and then Max sells Franz expensive antiques from his antique shop.
Eugen then tells Franz that he needs more elegant clothes and takes him to
Philip's boutique. Franz doesn't see that they kiss behind his back while he
is trying clothes on.
Eugen introduces Franz to his mother and his mother is shocked to see that
Franz has no table manners.
The simpleton Franz trusts Eugen in all matters.
Later Franz meets Klaus, who has been released from prison.
The gay bartender explains to Eugen that Klaus is Franz's previous lover.
Eugen is upset when Franz lends the penniless Klaus some money.
Eugen later complains that his car is falling apart and Franz immediately offers to buy a new car.
Franz starts working at Franz's company
as a humble manual worker, but paid a good salary.
Eugen throws a party to celebrate their new magnificent apartment and
Philip, while chatting with Max, lets it slip that he may live there some day,
implying that he expects Eugen to somehow kick out Franz.
Eugen is upset that Franz invited his alcoholic Hedwig who doesn't know how to
behave among sophisticated people.
Eugen and Franz decided to go on vacation to Morocco and Franz pays for the expensive trip.
A local gay approaches them and becomes their guide.
They argue over him, jealous of each other. They try to take him to their hotel room but the hotel doesn't allow Arabs inside.
When they return from vacation, Eugen's father tells them that a creditor is not paying his debt and therefore they don't have the money to pay salaries.
In order to borrow more money from the bank, they need a collateral.
Franz offers his apartment to Eugen which Eugen can use as collateral.
Later, Eugen goes to the opera with Max, clearly too ashamed of Franz's manners to take him to the opera house.
Franz spends the night in the neighborhood bar with his old friends, where he
gets drunk. The florist recognizes him as the one who ran away with his money
and Franz gives him 50 times more money.
Franz finds Eugen already in bed, indifferent and hostile.
One day Franz, while working at the company, ruins 40,000 copies of a book,
a very expensive mistake that guarantees the collapse of the company.
That night Franz drives around alone until he reaches his neighborhood bar,
where he drinks alone. The florist, who is gay too, tries to seduce him.
Franz slaps him in the face and then almost collapses with with chest pains.
The doctor tells him it's just stress and only prescribes valium pills to make him relax.
Later, Max is witness to an argument between the two, after which Franz decides to leave Eugen.
Eugen tells him that it's just fair that Eugen keeps the apartment as compensation for the damage caused by Max's mistake at the company.
The following morning Franz walks into the company to ask for them to repay the
money that he loaned to them, but Eugen tells him that they already did: his salary was not a salary but a repayment of his loan, as stipulated in the contract that Franz never read.
Franz can't even enter his apartment and get his furniture because Eugen has already changed the lock.
When he rings the bell, Philip opens the door and tells him that he's not welcome anymore.
Franz drives to his sister who makes fun of the way they ripped him off and calls him "stupid".
Tired of her scolding, he sleeps in his car.
The following day Franz sells his car to the car dealer who sold it to him for a lot but now the car dealer is willing to pay very little for it.
Franz spends another night at the neighborhood bar with his old friends.
When two US soldiers asks him for money to sleep with him, he has a nervous
breakdown and starts crying like a baby.
The following morning Franz has killed himself in the subway with the valium pills.
Two little boys find his body and, instead of calling for help, they carefully search his clothes and steal his cash and his gold watch.
Just then Max and Klaus, who now seem to be lovers, walk by and recognize the dead Franz.
They leave the body there and run away, afraid of getting involved in a nasty investigation.
As they leave, the two boys return to strip Franz's body of the jacket.
Effi Briest (1974), in bianco e nero, e` una riduzione cinematografica del romanzo di Theodor Fontane nel segno di una struttura narrativa a quadri (interni curatissimi, paesaggi campestri autunnali) e con ulteriori tendenze al kitsch (dissolvenze, specchi).
8. Mutter kusters
Intenti più polemici e politici ha
Mutter Kuesters' Fahrt zum Himmel/ Mother Kusters' Trip to Heaven (1975), storia di una donna il cui marito ha ucciso il padrone e si è tolto la vita; i figli non le sono di conforto (il maschio parte con la moglie, la femmina sfrutta la possibilità per la propria carriera di cantante), né le sono di ausilio gli amici comunisti, che si rivelano gretti e meschini come coloro che la perseguitano. Alla fine la vedova troverà un guardiano notturno, solo come lei.
9. Angst von der angst
Il film televisivo Angst vor der Angst/ Fear of Fear (1975) è la storia della solitudine della depressione di una casalinga: incompresa ed osteggiata dalla famiglia e dal marito, si affeziona al caso di un vicino che ha tentato di suicidarsi, cade fra le braccia del farmacista, si dà all'alcool finchè la sua convulsa nevrosi sfocia in un collasso; quando viene dimessa dall'ospedale apprende che il vicino è riuscito a suicidarsi.
È uno dei personaggi più compiuti di Fassbinder, studiato perlopiù da primi piani.
Dopo un altro film televisivo, Ich will doch nur, dass ihr mich Liebt/ I Only Want You To Love Me (1976),
Fassbinder arriva a Satansbraten/ Satan's Brew (1976), una farsa orrifica dove il protagonista è uno scrittore isterico che ha persa l'ispirazione ed è disposto a tutto pur risalire la china. Decide di spacciarsi per una reincarnazione di George, organizza letture pubbliche delle sue poesie, chiede soldi ai genitori poverissimi, uccide una ricca per denaro, ricca una prostituta chi si rivela una borghese sposata ecc. La moglie, malata, muore a poco a poco sopportando le sue prepotenze e dalla sua morte lo scrittore trae l'ispirazione per finire il libro.
11. Chinesisches roulette
In Chinesisches Roulette/ Chinese Roulette (1976), uno dei suoi film piu` feroci, una bambina poliomelitica giudica e condanna la corruzione e la decadenza dei costumi di cui è quotidiana spettatrice, gli adulteri dei suoi genitori; nella villa di campagna organizza un incontro fra i genitori e i rispettivi amanti, più la governante ex-nazista e suo figlio, aiutata da un'infermiera muta che è anche l'amante del giovane. L'intrico delle realzioni origina tensioni che la perversa ragazzina acuisce con cinico calcolo incitandoli al gioco della verità: prima gli ospiti cominciano a sbranarsi con parole, frasi, domande, poi il massacro diventa non più solo verbale, ma anche fisico; la madre, umiliata, tenta addirittura di sparare alla figlia, ma ferisce l'infermiera.
La struttura del giallo psicologico (tra l'altro la bambina possiede otto bambole, una per ogni personaggio); la bambina è una "giovane arrabbiata" che sfoga con ferocia la propria paralisi contro le miserie esistenziali che la circondano.
Sorprendentemente, nel 1977 esce soltanto un film televisivo,
Frauen in New York/ Women in New York (1977), una trasposizione di "The Women" di Clare Boothe Luce.
Un borghese afflitto da una profonda depressione psichica nella Germania della depressione economica è il protagonista di
Despair - Eine Reise ins Licht (1978),
scritto da Tom Stoppard adattando il romanzo di
Vladimir Nabokov (1936), un altro delle sue impeccabili e affascinanti trasposizioni di romanzi:
stanco del lavoro e della moglie decide di rifarsi una vita cambiando personalità; a tale scopo uccide un vagabondo credendo di far passare il cadavere come il proprio, ma nel delirio non si è accorto che la vittima non gli somiglia affatto e la polizia non impiega molto a scoprirlo.
13. Die Ehe der Maria Braun
Feuilleton popolare, kitsch decadente, melodramma americano convergono in
Die Ehe der Maria Braun/ The Marriage of Maria Braun (1979), forse
il capolavoro figurativo del cinematografo di fiducia Michael Ballhaus,
vi convergono anche i soliti temi dei suoi film: il conflitto psicologico, la solitudine femminile, lo sfascio morale, il fallimento della trasgressione, l'umiliazione degli emarginati.
Maria Braun (interpretata da Schigulla) è anche la Germania della ricostruzione e del miracolo economico, dall'"anno zero" in cui la vita ricomincia dopo aver perso tutto fino agli anni del benessere e della crisi esistenziale.
Maria Braun visse un solo giorno con il marito, che poi partì per la guerra e non fece più ritorno. Nelle macerie del dopoguerra si destreggia facendo del mercato nero e l'"entraineuse" per i soldati americani, vive con un negro e, in qualche modo, la vita continua; ma quando ricompare improvvisamente il marito cogliendo gli amanti in flagrante, il suo amore si risveglia e gli si lancia incontro; lui è però furente per il tradimento e si accapiglia con il negro; nella confusione del momento lei uccide il negro. Il marito si addossa la colpa del delitto e si lascia arrestare al posto dell'omicida; onesta, pur amandolo sempre, combatte la solitudine legandosi a un industriale e quando il marito esce dal carcere sceglie di rispettare la sua nuova agiatezza e parte per l'America. In realtà i due uomini hanno stretto un patto: l'industriale sa di dover morire e ha offerto del denaro al reduce per rifarsi una posizione chiedendo in cambio di avere la donna fino alla fine; quando il ricco muore e lascia loro tutti i propri averi il marito torna ma i sentimenti della donna non sono più così limpidi e un giorno fa accidentalmente saltare in aria la casa.
Tutta la trama poggia sulla personalità della donna, cinica ed affettuosa a un tempo, capace di vendersi con leggerezza ma al tempo stesso tenace nei propri sentimenti; sono due sue distrazioni a segnare la storia: quando uccide il negro che si frappone alla felicità coniugale e quando fa saltare in aria la casa in cui vive finalmente con il marito ma in un rapporto che non è più così genuino e che rischia di deteriorarsi. Il sospetto che entrambi i casi l'incidente sia voluto (ma per un guizzo incontrollabile di istinto femminile, non per un disegno razionale) è lecito.
Il tema è il miraggio della felicità e, al tempo stesso, una parabola sul regime al potere che, dopo tanta fatica, rischia di far saltare in aria il benessere tedesco.
14. In Einen Jahr mit 13 Mondem
Subito dopo il suicidio dell'amante
(l'attore Armin Meier),
Fassbinder ritorna al tema dell'omosessualità, sia pur con un tema cupo che sposta l'asse del discorso verso la solitudine e il suicidio. Il film
In Einen Jahr mit 13 Mondem/ In a Year with 13 Moons (1978) racconta gli ultimi cinque giorni di un transessuale, donna un tempo uomo, abbandonata da un attore e confortata da una prostituta a cui racconta la propria vita, dalla tormentata infanzia di bastardello al matrimonio e dall'operazione alla relazione con un uomo famoso; disperata per la propria situazione va a trovare la moglie e la figlia, le quali però non lo rivogliono in casa; scacciato anche da un giornalista che l'aveva intervistato, torna a casa, trova nel letto l'amica prostituta e l'uomo famoso diventati amanti, e si suicida. La sua vita è stata soltanto una storia di solitudini, di tradimenti, di abbandoni.
The film is a character study but also a moral parable
(everything is surreal inside the building of the criminal capitalist).
It is also a love story: the protagonist is not a trans-sexual, but simply
a person who is willing to do anything for the person he loves.
The film is bogged down by the lengthy monologues, only one of which is truly sensational (the one in the slaughterhouse), and by a silly ending.
On 24 July 1978 (the rare year with 13 new moon phases) four young man beat up
a woman who pretended to be a man and she has to crawl away with her pants torn to pieces.
At home Elvira finds her former lover, Christoph, who abandoned her six weeks earlier, the reason why she is lonely and desperate, and she was trying to hook up with a random man.
Christoph finds her repulsive and accuses her of being an alcoholic, fat, stupid and ugly.
He starts packing to move out, and she tries in vain to stop him.
She runs after him in the street and jumps on the hood of his car as he is pulling out.
He accelerates and she falls in the street. A neighbor, Zora, presumably a prostitute from the way she dresses and walks, who has witnessed the
scene takes her to a coffee house.
Elvira explains that she wears men's clothes when she wants to buy a man because
she would be ashamed to do it dressed like a woman.
Elvira used to work as a slaughterer of animals but can't find a job in that
line of work anymore. Elvira thinks that it is beautiful to see the animals die.
Elvira takes Zora to the slaughterhouse where animals are brutally slaughtered.
We see gruesome scenes of blood gushing out of heads that have been severed from hanging cows while Elvira tells Zora how she met Christoph when he was only an actor, seven years earlier.
While she chats with Zora, Elvira recites Goethe's "Tasso" over Handel's
"Organ Concerto Opus 7".
Elvira tells Zora how "he" was married to Irene and the child that Irene had from "him", Marie-Ann, before "he" went to Casablanca to get a sex change operation and became Elvira: Elvira used to be a man called Erwin. Meanwhile,
we see the men of the slaughterhouse cutting pieces out of the heads and ripping the flesh of the cow to extract the meat.
The body of the animal is quickly to unrecognizable parts, ready for consumption by human customers.
When Elvira returns home alone, she acts surprised that Christoph is not there as if she forgot that he just left her. She finally lies in bed and masturbates.
In the morning her former wife Irene, now a teacher, finds her still deep asleep with a record stuck playing a children's song.
Irene is actually mad at Elvira because Elvira gave an interview to a newspaper
in which she made allegations against a powerful man, Anton, who could take revenge on their daughter.
Irene thinks it was a stupid thing to do but Elvira simply replies that she simply told the truth.
Anton could hurt Elvira like he hurt her before: Irene mentions that Anton sent Elvira to jail and then encouraged her trip to Casablanca (to get a sex change).
Irene is afraid not only for Elvira but also for their daughter Marie-Ann.
Zora takes Elvira, dressed like an old-fashioned lady, to visit her friend
Soul Frieda, a gay who was sent to jail for eight years for molesting children
and now runs a gym for bodybuilding. Zora tells Soul Frieda the story of Elvira: she did the sex change even though she was not gay.
Elvira adds that she was initially disgusted and that it took her time to get
used to being a woman.
Elvira and Zora then visit the orphanage where Elvira was raised for
Elvira is scared to approach the nun Gudrun who raised him like a mother.
Zora forces them to meet, Elvira tells the nun that he ruined his own life,
and the nun is sympathetic.
The nun then tells Zora and Elvira how Erwin was delivered to the convent
by his mother Anita and how a couple later wanted to adopt him but then the
mother confessed that Erwin was a legitimate child of her husband that she was
trying to hide from the father. Unfortunately, it was impossible to grant
the couple an adoption without the consent of the legitimate father.
Erwin, who had been overjoyed at the idea of being adopted by the couple, suffered a trauma and was never a happy child again.
Listening to the nun's tale, Elvira/Erwin faints.
Zora takes her home and tells her a children's story to make her fall asleep.
Then Zora flips through the channels of the TV-set and we see a soap opera, a
documentary on Chile's dictator Pinochet,
and even an interview with Fassbinder himself.
One day Elvira dresses in a fancy dress and walks to the skyscraper of
She buys wine, bread and cheese.
There she meets an odd man who tells her that Anton works at the
16th floor. The man is a former employee,
fired 17 months earlier because he has cancer, who now spends
eight hours a day staring at the 16th floor of the skyscraper.
The man tells her (and us) Anton's story: after surviving
a concentration camp, he started his racketeering career, then entered the
meat trading business, then bought a brothel and ran it like a concentration camp, then bought a building, and then another one and another one and he became a rich and powerful man.
Elvira walks up the stairwell instead of taking the elevator.
She witnesses from above a shooting in the back of the building:
Anton employs gangsters, as Irene explained.
Elvira falls asleep on a floor of the building until a bearded man walks in,
preparing to hang himself.
She offers him the wine, bread and cheese that she bought.
He gives her a philosophical explanation for his decision to kill himself,
and she tells him to go ahead. He hangs himself.
Elvira walks around the hallways until she finds someone, a cleaning woman
who is peeping through a keyhole and laughing out loud.
When Elvira tells her that a man just hanged himself, the woman replies that it happens all the time.
Elvira knocks at Anton's office.
His chaffeur Smolik opens the door. Elvira begins a delirious speech.
He asks her for the password to enter the office.
Elvira guesses it's "Bergen-Belsen", the name of the concentration camp where
Anton was interned.
Most offices are empty. Elvira chats with the henchman as they walk around.
Finally they reach the room where Anton is watching a Jerry Lewis film on a TV screen with some underlings.
Anton doesn't recognize her/him, even after she shows him a picture of the young Erwin.
Anton orders his underlings to imitate a musical scene
from Norman Taurog's film "You're never too Young", the Jerry Lewis film that they were watching.
Elvira joins them.
Finally Anton remembers Erwin, the employee who was so obsessed with him that
one day flew to Casablanca to become a woman, hoping to seduce him.
Elvira came to apologize to him about the interview published in the magazine,
but Anton doesn't care.
Anton remembers that Erwin used to make good coffee and proposes that they go
to his/her place and s/he makes coffee for him.
Zora is sleeping in Elvira's bed. Zora seduces him (easily)
and Elvira is heartbroken.
Anton tells Zora how it happened: Erwin used to work for him, one day told
Anton that he loved him, Anton laughed, Erwin flew to Casablanca and returned
Meanwhile, Elvira in the bathroom cuts her heair and dresses like a man,
returning to be Erwin.
Erwin walks out of the door and leaves the two in the bed.
Erwin approaches Irene and his daughter Marie-Ann while Marie-Ann is talking about Kafka's "The Castle". They laugh seeing him dressed like a man.
Erwin now regrets that they have never been a real family, the three of them,
but realizes that Irene doesn't want him as a husband and runs away.
Erwin walks to the apartment of the journalist who interviewed him because
he needs someone to talk to.
The journalist is telling a long story to his wife Sybille.
It is late at night. The journalist needs to go to sleep and doesn't let Erwin in.
Erwin walks away alone, crying.
However, as soon as he's gone Sybille, naked, starts listening to the tape
of the interview with Elvira. The journalist tells her that they should go
and check that Elvira is ok.
When they get to her apartment, they find Anton's chaffeur guarding it
(he even searches them for weapons).
The journalist then calls Marie-Ann telling her to go and check what is going on.
We still hear the tape of the interview
(de facto, another monologue)
in which Elvira describes her relationship with Anton.
While we hear Elvira's voice describing how cruel Anton was never to reply to her letters, Marie-Ann opens the door (after being frisked by the chaffeur) and
finds Elvira/Erwin dead on the bed, next to Anton and Zora who have fallen asleep.
The nun Gudrun shows up and (after being frisked like everybody else by the chaffeur) she stares at the dead man, walks around the room, and then leaves, without having said a word.
The film ends on 28 August 1978.
15. Die dritte generation
La commedia e thriller Die Dritte Generation/ The Third Generation (1979) ritorna all'analisi politica. Il dirigente di una multinazionale finanzia i gruppi terroristi per incrementare i profitti della sua compagnia di sistemi di sicurezza, ma viene rapito egli stesso e processato, ma i terroristi finiranno tutti giustiziati dalla polizia. Prima del rapimento tutti erano contenti della situazione: l'industriale si arricchiva, i terroristi sfogavano la loro barbarie, la polizia aveva un pretesto per reprimere.
Nel 1979 incominciò anche la lavorazione del film-fiume tratto dal romanzo di Döblin Berlin Alexanderplatz (1980), trasmesso dalla televisione in 14 puntate per un totale di 15 ore, quadro apocalittico della Berlino anni '20, dissoluta metropoli alla vigilia dello sfacelo; questo tumultuoso affresco della Germania dimostra la piena coscienza storica del regista, il cui pessimismo va perciò fatta risalire alla stessa storia della Germania (Fassbinder nacque un anno dopo il suicidio di Hitler).
16. Lili Marleen
La Storia è protagonista anche di Lili Marleen (1981), spettacolo sentimentale a molte facce, film d'amore, di guerra, di ideologia, giallo, musical. Hollywood e i suoi luoghi comuni trionfano in una selva inestricabile di citazioni. Narra il contrastato amore sbocciato in Svizzera alla vigilia della guerra fra una canzonettista ariana (Hanna Schigulla) ed un ebreo antinazista.
Per intervento del padre di lui i due vengono allontanati e la cantante prosegue la sua carriera in Germania, raggiungendo il successo con la canzone "Lili Marleen", lodata da Hitler in persona; il giovane, invece, che ha continuato da solo la lotta clandestina, le chiede di aiutare la Resistenza, ma i due vengono arrestati e separati quasi subito: lei viene scarcerata per via della sua popolarità, lui viene liberato dal padre.
A guerra finita lei, dimenticata da tutti, torna da lui ma lo trova, famoso direttore d'orchestra, sposato ad un'altra.
Il lusso scenografico e il kitsch pesante sembrano spesso sul punto di diventare caricatura; la teatralità troppo esibita ha il sapore dell'irrisione.
Al periodo della ricostruzione, ma con toni eccessivi, ritorna Lola (1981), parafrasi del Blaue Engel di Josef Sternberg, un altro capitolo nella trilogia che da Maria Braun porta a Veronika Voss.
About ten years after the end of World War II,
West Germany is still occupied by the USA.
A brothel seems to be a center of socializing for the powerful men of a small town.
The owner, Schuckert, is a fat capitalist who is also the main property
developer in town.
He meets the mayor in the restroom, and the mayor has to hide in
a stall when Esslin, a city hall employee, walks in.
The brothel's prostitute Lola is also the singer.
For a while the film is a triple portrait: the feeble portrait of a
prostitute, the mild portrait of a degenerate corrupt capitalist,
and the strong portrait of an incorruptible law enforcer.
The ending however turns it into a pessimistic Brecht-ian apologue in which
money triumphs over principles. And even sadder is the fact that the triumph
of evil results in general happiness: order is restored, tensions are released,
and life returns to be simple. If the film looked like a tragedy at the beginning, and prepared us for some kind of dramatic ending, by the end instead it looks like a satirical comedy.
A political demonstration takes place in front of city hall, just when the notables are
walking out, including the mayor and Schuckert.
Schuckert's wife is disgusted by democracy.
Esslin is one of the demonstrators, and they mention that he is an idealist.
Lola visits her mother, a war widow who complains that she has to work as a housekeeper and Lola has to work as a singer because they lost the man of the house.
She is going to work for the new building commissioner VonBohm, who has accepted
that she lives in the house and also welcomes her granddaughter Marie, Lola's daughter.
VonBohm takes possession of his office with dictatorial methods that scare
the old assistant. He is in charge of post-war reconstruction.
He is introduced to the notables of the city at a meeting. His efficiency
and determination intimidates the mayor, but pleases Esslin.
He meets the police chief and Esslin tells him that Schuckert is the city's
main building contractor.
At home VonBohm is a different man, relaxed and cordial with Lola's mother.
He even plays with little Marie.
Lola's mother is ashamed of Lola's job and tells him that Lola is a classical
Schuckert gossips about VonBohm with Lola at the brothel and they get drunk
Esslin, who is also the drummer for the brothel's band and loves Lola, waits for her in her dressing room and tells her that VonBohm is
not corrupt like the others.
Lola decides to seduce VonBohm. She inspects his quarters, upsetting her mother
who doesn't trust her.
Her mother calls her Marie-Louise. A black US soldier rents a room in the same
house, a pink bedroom.
Lola then finds a way to meet him alone.
At the office Esslin informs him that a major project is a scam involving
the power elite of the town.
Esslin hopes that VonBohm will clean up the town, but
VonBohm is neither shocked nor alarmed: he needs the corruption in order to
achieve his goal of building more apartments.
At the brothel, Schuckert boasts with Lola about his corruption.
Lola despises Schuckert but he ignores her sarcasm.
We also learn that
Schuckert is the father of Lola's daughter Marie.
VonBohm is delighted by Lola's interest, especially since Lola behaves
like the perfect girl, even praying with him in church.
He tells her the story of how he came back from the war to find his wife
had found another man.
She tells him that everybody is corrupt in that town, including herself.
At home VonBohm plays the violin
At the brothel Lola overhears the madame saying that she could retire
and Lola dreams of some day running it.
VonBohm buys an engagement ring and proposes to Lola in the church.
He also invites to dinner the mayor and
Schuckert's aristocratic wife insults the housekeeper, Lola's mother, who has cooked
dinner, and on the way back she whines that her husband comes from the lower class. This obnoxious woman explains why
Schuckert spends his spare time at the brothel.
VonBohm, instead, spends his evenings at the office, working.
Esslin shows up and talks about his
Marxist and pacifist beliefs, which explains his hatred for
the capitalist Schuckert who exploits the working class.
VonBohm calls him a dreamer but doesn't mind working with a dreamer.
VonBohm buys a TV-set for his home.
Meanwhile Schuckert and Esslin are fighting over Lola: Esslin offers money
for Lola to kick out Schuckert, but Schuckert easily offers more money than him.
Lola, disgusted that they are bidding for her, kicks both of them out.
Esslin, humiliated, wants to destroy Schuckert's reputation. He wakes up VonBohm,
who has fallen asleep in front of the TV-set, and drags him to the brothel
to show him the reality of that town. Esslin shows him that the power elite
of the town lives a second life in the brothel.
Schuckert is delighted to see VonBohm there, and encourages him to watch his
favorite prostitute and singer, boasting that she belongs to him: Lola.
VonBohm, a religious man, already shocked by the degree of moral decay,
is further devastated when he sees that Lola is his fiance Marie-Louise.
She sees him staring at her and then running out, and continues her strip-tease, in fact delivering a fantastic show.
VonBohm spends the night at the office and the following morning kills the
development project that Schuckert counted on.
Esslin is the only one to stand by his side. When Esslin tells Lola what
VonBohm has done, she compares him to Don Quijote.
Schuckert and the mayor are puzzled: they just can't understand that someone
can believe in principles.
Schuckert tries to bribe VonBohm but VonBohm shouts that he is determined to
destroy him. VonBohm is accumulating evidence of wrongdoing and
finally offers the owner of the newspaper the story about the scandal.
But the journalist hesitates when he sees that the scandal involves the entire
ruling class of the town, and actually doesn't see anything wrong in a story in which the ruling class is getting rich at the expenses of the poor: it's the way
capitalism works. Undeterred, VonBohm is determined to take on the entire ruling
class. Now even Esslin is worried about VonBohm's mission. VonBohm even joins
a Marxist demonstration outside the restaurant where the power elite is dining:
the mayor, the banker, the police chief, the newspaper owner and Schuckert.
Esslin tells them that he knows all the names involved in the scandal.
Schuckert offers him a job, and Esslin smiles and accepts: he betrays VonBohm.
Schuckert tries one last avenue with VonBohm: he tells him to take Lola and
do anything he likes with her. She's just a whore and is worth nothing to him.
VonBohm walks into the brothel and publicly demands to buy the whore Lola.
Alone with her, VonBohm bursts into tears and she realizes that he really
VonBohm approves the development project.
Lola, now a respectable businesswoman, is treated to tea by Schucker's own arrogant wife, because Lola is the one who can control VonBohm's actions.
VonBohm and Lola/Marie-Louise get married, and all the notables attend the wedding.
Right after the wedding Schuckert gives his wedding gift to
Lola: the brothel. He gifts the brothel to Lola/Marie-Louise and VonBohm.
They celebrate the happy ending with sex: she remains Schuckert's lover.
Nothing has changed: the corrupts can continue their conspiracy to rob the
city, Lola can continue her affair with the capitalist and can even run the
brothel, and peace is restored in the happy town.
Il melodramma di Fassbinder si appiattisce via via in un kitsch di stereotipi, ostentando citazioni espressioniste e hollywoodiane con una teatralità smaccata. Commedia di costume; il boss è un essere volgare e abietto ma estremamente potente; il giustiziere è austero e integerrimo, ma fondamentalmente un debole; Lola è una cinica opportunista che approfitta della loro lotta per il potere per acquistare a sua volta potere; privato e politico si confondono e diventano una cosa unica, riflesso preciso della società del boom.
18. Die sehn sucht der Veronika Voss
Ancora ambientato nel periodo di ricostruzione Die Sehnsucht der Veronika Voss (1982), filmato in bianco e nero (o, meglio, in chiaroscuro),
racconta di un'affascinante diva dimenticata che attira l'interesse di un giornalista; questi fa di tutto, compreso trascurare l'amante, pur di spiare la vita della diva misteriosa, la quale ha a sua volta un bisogno maniacale di essere amata; scopre così che la donna è profondamente depressa e sopravvive soltanto grazie alla morfina procuratale dalla padrona di casa, titolare di uno studio medico; andando più a fondo il giornalista scopre che la dottoressa ha resa schiava la diva per depredarla dei suoi averi, come ha fatto con altre. La diva è in effetti nelle sue mani, tossicodipendente, incapace di recitare; con l'aiuto dell'amante il giornalista cerca di farla fuggire dalla casa-prigione della dottoressa, ma il piano fallisce, l'amante resta uccisa e, pochi giorni dopo, anche la diva viene trovata cadavere, ufficialmente suicida.
Citando il giallo detective, il Wilder di Sunset Boulevard, il rapporto servo/padrone capovolto, l'espressionismo del mostro (la dottoressa) il film discetta sul mal di nostalgia che affligge i tedeschi vissuti anche "prima" ed ora vittime della rimozione collettiva.
Marianne e` l'erede del Nazismo, che infatti uccide anche due sopravissuti dei
campi di concentramento: la differenza e` che non guarda in faccia a nessuno,
interessata soltanto al denaro, e infatti uccide anche Veronika, che aveva
collaborato con il Nazismo.
Marianne segna un ritorno al Mabuse di Lang, la perfidia amorale per denaro,
mentre Veronika e` la star dimenticata di Sunset Boulevard e Robert e`
un personaggio da film noir, un Bogart dimesso e sconfitto.
Nel film non c'e` giustizia, e ci sono tanti "cattivi" (Robert tradisce
la fidanzata, Veronika e` una drogata, Marianne un'omicida, e poi c'e`
l'ufficiale corrotto, il soldato corrotto, il produttore egoista) e pochi
gli ebrei che si suicidano sorridendo alla vita e la fidanzata di Robert che
sogna di vincere il suo cuore aiutandolo a tradirla.
Veronika watches a film in which a woman signs away all her belongings
to get an shot of drugs: she is that actress.
A flashback shows the actress when the filming ended and she
hugged an older man, the screenwriter and husband.
Veronika Voss completa, con Maria Braun e Lilì Marlén, una trilogia sulla continuità fra nazismo e dopoguerra, sulla cancellazione del passato e sulla ricostruzione, un processo storico che marchia anche le vite dei singoli individui, costretti a perdere la loro vita precedente: dal regíme nazista a quello borghese si passa senza frattura se si occultano gli orrori del passato collettivo e per far ciò bisogna rinunciare del tutto ad ogni singolo passato.
Queste tre donne sono fantasmi della coscienza tedesca.
The film starts again on a rainy evening.
She is alone in the woods, crying under the heavy rain as if paralyzed.
A passer-by, Robert, sees her and offers her his umbrella and makes her smile.
They catch a tram together. He also offers her his coat.
She is hysterical, afraid that people could recognize her.
The following morning she phones while he is still asleep with his girlfriend Henriette.
Veronika wants to meet him for tea. He says he doesn't know who she is but she
is convinced that he is embarrassed that he didn't immediately recognize the
famous actress. He is a sports reporter and confesses that he doesn't watch
movies, but she doesn't pay attention. She is again a bit hysterical.
She borrows money to buy a brooch in a shop nearby but it's too little money.
She leaves telling him that she has an appointment with her movie producer
for a new movie written by her husband. She sounds mad but he goes along.
On the way out she is recognized by a man, Praetorius, but she barely
acknowledges him. She then returns to the jewelry shop and returns the brooch
to get the money back. She obviously needs money but still behaves like a diva.
The old shopowner recognizes her: they met when the premiere of a movie was
canceled due to a bombing raid and now she asks Veronika to sign the photograph
of her that hangs in the shop.
Grete, a fellow writer at the same newspaper, tells him that Veronika was a star
during the war, suspected of sleeping with a close Hitler associate,
Joseph Goebbels, who helped her career.
Veronika hasn't made a movie in three years and is now divorced.
Grete knows so much because, she
remarks, he, a sports writer, is interested in winners while she, Grete,
is interested in losers.
Robert tries to find out Veronika's address but her female doctor
to help him. He simply wants to find her to get his money back.
When he leaves the office, we see that Veronika is hiding in a room and is
treated by the doctor as a madwoman. The doctor is angry that she borrowed
money from a stranger.
Later Veronika dresses up and visits Praetorius, begging him for a part in a
movie, even a small part as an old woman.
Robert is writing sad poems.
Robert's girlfriend Henriette finds the letter that Veronika writes to return
the money Robert lent her. They have dinner and Robert gets drunk.
When they return home, they find Veronika waiting outside their apartment.
Veronika shamelessly, in front of Henriette, demands that Robert gives her a ride home.
She takes him to her abandoned old villa, that doesn't even have electricity.
She pretends that her husband is just on vacation but it's obvious nobody has
lived there in a while.
A flashback shows us with her husband in that villa during the war, both of
them mildly drunk. It's actually a dream that she is having after sex with
Robert. She wakes up in the middle of the night, she screams hysterical, smashes
a vase, accuses him of breaking it, demands that he pays for a new one,
and even gives him the keys of the house to return it.
She cries and asks him to drive her to her doctor Marianne.
Veronika doesn't admit that it's where she really lives.
Robert seems both moved and fascinated by her insanity.
Robert sleeps in the car outside the building. He doesn't see when
Marianne, a male friend
and her assistant return. They find Veronika
intoxicated in bed. Marianne scolds her for taking pills with no authorization.
Marianne, on the other hand, noticed him and
invites him over for breakfast. Over breakfast Marianne describes Veronika's
Marianne asks him if he's interested in Veronika
for professional or personal reasons and he replies that he doesn't quite know
Henriette finds out that he's there and confronts him in the car, and Marianne's
assistant sees that he drives away with a woman.
He admits to Henriette that he doesn't know whether he's in love.
Robert drives to the shop where Veronika wants him to get a new vase, and
realizes that it is run by the kind old couple, the Treibels,
who live where Marianne used to
live and sent him to Marianne in the first place.
Ashamed of being seen by them, he sends Henriette to buy a new vase from them.
The old angelic couple recognize where the vase comes from, simply gift
her another one and send their regards to Veronika.
The old man cryptically mentions that they live in a world of dreams and memories, and shows Henriette the marks of a concentration camp.
Meanwhile, Robert returns to the newspaper's office and tries to convince his
managing editor Borsoj to let him write a story on aging movie stars.
Just then Veronika phones looking for him, and the managing editor tells her
that he remembers her before passing the phone to Robert.
His managing editor, who was opposed to the article, now allows Robert to write it.
Robert has given the keys to the villa to Henriette so that she can return the
vase, and she wanders around the villa, fascinated.
Meanwhile, Marianne is asking Veronika about the keys to the villa, calling the villa "my home". Veronika retorts that the home is not hers yet, but it is clear that she lost it to Marianne, and then we see that
an African-American soldier who lives there is preparing drugs for Veronika, and Marianne threatens to tell Robert that Veronika is a drug addict and penniless, having lost everything to pay for the drugs.
The kind old couple shows up in Marianne's office and she kicks them out angry,
but we are not told what they want from her.
Veronika shoots a brief scene in Praetorius' new movie,
"Blue Skies", and invites Robert to watch.
Also watching from a distance is Veronika's ex-husband.
Veronika keeps failing to utter the few lines of her part, and then she
has an epileptic fit, twitching on the floor.
Both husband and lover rush to help her, and so they meet.
Later they get drunk together and the husband tells Robert that Veronika is
a drug addict and that her doctor Marianne is selling her the drugs and
stealing her fortune. A drunk Robert breaks into Marianne's office/house
and witnesses as Marianne administers morphine to a Veronika in pain.
Robert and Henriette are informed that the kind old couple, the Treibels,
commited suicide together. Robert guesses that now their villa and their
art collection will be owned
by Marianne: they too were her patients, and they too lost everything to her.
Robert and Henriette interrogate the city official in charge of controlling the
morphine, and we see that he is Marianne's friend from a previous scene.
He tells them that the couple suffered
ten years of excruciating pain and therefore their doctor Marianne was
allowed to prescribe morphine for them. When Robert and Henriette leave his
office, we see that he calls Marianne to tell her that they were there: he is
a corrupt official.
Henriette volunteers to help Robert's investigation. Posing as a rich lonely
woman who suffers of depression, she visits Marianne. Sure enough Marianne
prescribes morphine. Henriette walks into a phone booth and calls Robert
that she has the prescription signed by Marianne that would incriminate her.
They are planning to report Marianne to the police, but
Marianne sees her from the window and minutes later drives over her,
killing her, and takes the prescription from her purse.
A desperate Robert tries in vain to convince the police that Marianne murdered Henriette.
Robert begs Veronika to tell the police what is going on but instead
Later we see Marianne dining with the corrupt official and discussing that
Veronika has become unreliable so it is time to kill her..
Marianne organizes a lavish party for Veronika.
Then the plan is to leave her alone in the house with no morphine but plenty of pills that will kill her.
The following morning Marianne, her assistant, the corrupt official, and
the African-American soldier leave, ostensibly for an Easter vacation,
locking Veronika in her room.
Veronika dreams of a lavish "farewell" party attended by Robert, her husband, Praetorius and so on, during which she tells a journalist that she's
negotiating a contract with the big Hollywood studios.
When she wakes up, alone and prisoner in her small room, church bells are calling people to Easter mass. She takes the pills left by Marianne and overdoses to death.
Robert publishes the article on aging actresses just when the newspaper
publishes the news that Veronika has died.
Robert takes a taxi to the villa and sees Marianne celebrating with the corrupt
official, her assistant and the soldier.
Fassbinder fumava 150 sigarette al giorno, ingeriva litri e litri di alcool, trascorreva la notte nei locali degli amici, si imbottiva di stupefacenti, ascoltava rock a tutto volume dal registratore portatile che portava sempre con sé.
Morì a 36 anni nel giugno 1982, stroncato da tanti eccessi, non ultimo quello della sua filmografia, martire precoce dell'autodistruzione, tardo epigone della sua generazione (Hendrix, Morrison, Joplin).
Timido, brutto, omosessuale, cercava rifugio nel lavoro e, non a caso, il suo lavoro si svolse tutto all'insegna del neopatetismo: il suo universo di emarginati e di umiliati ne fa un Balzac della solitudine moderna, ma con un'attenzione critica per la Storia che è frutto soltanto del Sessantotto.
Lo stile evolvette gradualmente dall'angosciante iperrealismo quasi wharoliano degli inizi ad un tono più leggero, quasi caricaturale; fu anche un grande attore, capace di tenere la scena come un Orson Welles. Il suo funerale fu un death-party: un nastro registrato trasmise per due ore musica rock, che gli amici ascoltarono in piedi in silenzio come se fosse una marcia funebre.
Querelle (1982), adapted from Jean Genet's novel "Querelle de Brest" (1947),
is just one long homosexual erotic dream in the form of a film noir.
Querelle is a "homme fatale" who seduces, kills, smuggles, betrays and bribes.
His ecosystem is a desolate brothel of a provincial port where nothing ever happens.
This is a rather amateurish film, directed like it was highschool homework,
or, worse, a quick pornographic film.
The dialogues and soliloquies are often too philosophical to be taken seriously:
incomprehensible, incoherent and melodramatic, they seem to mock philosophical talk.
In a bar a handsome and elegant young man, Robert, is dancing with a much
older woman, Lysiane, in front of her husband, Nono, the barmaid,
while Nono chats casually with the police chief, Mario.
Lysiane and Robert chat about his brother Querelle. Lysiane reads danger in
the cards for the brother she has never met and didn't know that existed.
Meanwhile, sailors on a boat (against an orange sky) are about to reach a port.
The captain observes their sexy bodies and tapes his lusty thoughts,
specifically about the sailor named Querelle. The men are looking forward to
hit the local whorehouse, which happens to be Lysiane's place.
Robert and Querelle meet. Learning that Querelle is trying to sell opium,
Robert introduces him to Nono. The police chief, Mario, is just "furniture", as
Robert tells Querelle. Querelle is seduced by the looks of the glacial Mario,
who seems to spend all his time in the exact same position at the counter.
Meanwile a Polish worker, Gil, talks to a kid, Roger, about the girl he lusts
for: Roger's sister Paulette.
The captain writes on a wall that he is looking for boys with big cocks.
Inside the brothel a worker plays a videogame whose digital noise interferes
with the song sung by another worker.
Querelle instructs his accomplice to have the package of opium ready.
Querelle doesn't tell him the true amount of money he's going to get from Nono.
The narrating voiceover describes Querelle's role in the community with
Querelle kills is sexy partner, Vic, apparently only because he's attractive.
Then he plays a game with Nono: if he wins, he can take Lysiane; if he loses,
Nono can sodomize him. This is Nono's rule, that has allowed him to have anal
sex with a lot of men.
Nono wins. Querelle pretends to be a virgin (as far
as homosexuality goes), but Nono laughs: he saw him cheat at the game to
lose, not to win, which means that Querelle wants the sodomy as much as Nono.
The sexual act is shown in self-indulgent detail.
Nono later boasts about it with Robert, maybe his way to get even with the
man who stole his wife. Robert, furious, beats up Querelle in the alley outside.
Querelle pulls out a knife but the police interrupt them.
Then Querelle is molested by Mario, the cop, who is morbidly curious and
provokes Querelle until Querelle accepts.
Gil is harassed by another worker, Theo, until he loses his temper and kills
him. THe police then come to suspect that Gil is also the murderer of Vic.
The captain continues his hallucinated soliloquy about sex with Querelle.
Roger has become a good friend of Gil and arranges a meeting in Gil's hideout
with Querelle, hoping that he can somehow help Gil.
Lysiane talks to Robert about her attraction for him and her fears, but he
simply lies down in bed masturbating and then falls asleep.
The narrating voice, Robert, Lysiane, Nono and Querelle analyze the story so
far with pseudo-psychoanalytic speeches. None of them sounds emotional.
They all sound like zombies.
Querelle talks Gil into robbing the captain of the ship. The captain refuses
to hand over his cash so Gil has to shoot him, but only in the shoulder.
Gil (who looks a lot like Querelle's brother) is the only man whom Querelle respects, perhaps because he too killed.
It is also the first time that Querelle wants to fuck a man instead of being
fucked by a man (so says the narrating voice). Gil lets Querelle kiss him.
They basically swear eternal love to each other. The whole point of the
robbery, though, was for Gil to have money to escape.
Nonetheless later Querelle betrays Gil: he tips off the police about the train
that Gil is planning to take. Interrogated by the police, Gil even confesses
the crime that he did not commit: Vic's murder. Surprisingly, however,
the captain does not recognize the thief who robbed him, so Gil cannot be
accused of that one crime.
Querelle is about to get into another dangerous brawl but is stopped by
the captain. On the way to the ship they hug, and Querelle begs him.
When they stop at the brothel and run into Querelle's brother Robert (who looks
like Gil), the captain recognizes him as the thief who shot him.
Lysiane is still playing psychoanalyst and clarvoyant with the two brothers.
It sounds like she's infatuated with Querelle as much as anybody else.
When Querelle leaves, she reads something funny in the cards: there exists
no brother of Robert. Nono and Mario starts laughing too: was it all an
invention of Lysiane's mind?
Querelle (1982) ritorna all'omosessualità.
Querelle è un criminale che riesce a soggiogare chiunque con il suo fascino; uccide, contrabbanda droga, corrompe uomini, ricatta, tradisce, seduce persino un poliziotto. Un uomo fatale, attorno al quale si muove lo squallido sottobosco della malavita di provincia: il fratello ama la Moreau, moglie del padrone di un bordello, questi a sua volta amante di Querelle etc. Il film segna in un certo senso il riscatto dell'omosessuale che nelle opere precedenti era sempre emarginato, tradito, umiliato, abbandonato: qui è lui a scegliere la solitudine, a sfruttare gli altri.
Fassbinder died in 1982, at the age of 37, of a drug overdose.
(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx) |
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