The Michigan Daily
Friday, September 21, 1984
Berlin Alexanderplatz kommt in die Stadt
Ann Arbor filmgoers grown discon-
tent with the almost usually staid and
predictably safe campus film repetoire
have cause for celebration this
weekend. Starting tonight, through an
unprecedented collaboration between
the Ann Arbor Film Co-op, Cinema II,
and the Cinema Guild, filmgoers have
the chance to see a rare, specially
structured.showing of German director
Rainer Werner Fassbinder's 15-and-a-
half-hour-long magnum opus, Berlin
When he died at the tragically young
age of 36 last year, Fassbinder had left
behind an incredible legacy. In his 15
years as a writer/director he made an
astonishing 43 films, all marked by a
bizarrely idiosyncratic, widely eclectic
Fassbinder has never been fully
celebrated in his homeland. In fact, he
received little recognition until
American and French critics lauded
him so heavily that their German coun--
ternarts did so in embarrassed hin-
dsight. Fassbinder himself thought the
reason was that few Germans, par-
ticularly filmmakers, could stand to
look inward and explore German
history, and in particular, the psyche of
the German people.
Fassbinder did both. In absorbing
works like Lola, Veronika Voss, and Lili
Marleen, films with both tragic and
comedic overtones and that were in their
own right brilliant works, became mere
practice shots for the work that had
become a lifelong obsession.
Fassbinder first read the novel by
Alfred Doblin when he was 15 and it af-
fected his deeply. He reread it
repeatedly as he grew older, and even
though one version had already been
shot (a two hour condensation by Piel
Jutzi in 1931), Fassbinder longed to
create the definitie adaptation. The
book had become a part of Fassbinder,
who in an interview once admitted,
"This book helped me from becoming
totally sick, mendacious, desperate. It
helped me not to go to pieces."
Fassbinder finally got his chance,
when a German-Italian production of-
fered him total control over a $6 million
mini-series for German television. Not
.since Eric von Stroheim's disastrous
attempt to make a nine hour version of
Greed (subsequently cut to two incom-
prehensible hours by MGM) had a
director been offered such an expansive
canvas to paint on.
And Fassbinder went to work. After
slaving over the screenplay for three
months, he spent another 11 months
shooting and editing his epic. The result
is a work regarded as his most absor-
bing, darkest study of human nature.
Set in the late 1920s in a depressed
Berlin, Fassbinder creates an in-
triguing allegory of an ultra-modern
Babylon. Underneath the gleaming
metropolis, Fassbinder focuses on its
rotting ghettos, the bars, alleys, and
cabarets where English novelist
Christopher Isherwood was likely to be
wandering at that very time. It's
inhabitants are whores, petty thieves,
and assorted depraved riff-raff, all
Franz Biberkopf (Gunter Lamprecht) talks with his friend Meck (Franz Buchreiser) in the bar when he sees Lina
(Elisabeth Trissenaar) for the first time.
caught beneath the crushing heels of an
Cast into this vortex of parasites and
cheap opportunists is Fassbinder's in-
cantation of Everyman, Franz
Biberkopf (Guner Lamprecht). Over
weight and dim witted, Biberkopf is
swept off his feet by the circumstances:
around him and despite his intentions to
lead a decent life, is dragged down to
the lowest depths of his soul.
Even though the film was made for
and shown on German television (as
was Wolfgang Peterson's Das Boot),
nothing about Fassbinder's appraoch
mirrors those of American projects of
the same format. Fassbinder treated
the film as a cinematic project from its
inception, lavishing it with extreme in-
telligence and care to detail. He strove
to make his screenplay much more
than pure melodrama, and, designed it
to work better on the large screen. With
cinematographer Xaver Schwarzen-
berger, Fassbinder lit and shot the film
in intense shadows and lighting effects,
which television tends to blur and
distort. The style ranges from
naturalistic to sometimes surreal, the
sheer scope of the story demanding
more than casual attention. It is
generally acknowledged as Fassbib-
der's most intensely personal work and
this weekend's showing marks a rare
opportunity to catch what may well
become recognized as one of the classic
movies of the decade.
MFi IF WI
A Major Events Presentation
Friday, October 19 8 p.m.
Tickets are $17.50 and $15.00
and go on sale Friday, sept. 21st at the Michigan
Union Ticket Office and all Ticket World Outlets
PROUD SPONSOR OF THE BARRY MANILOW TOUR 4O PyOO
FREE BARRY MANILOW POSTER.. Bring this ad to your nearest Fox Photo along with
your next roll of color film for developing and
printingand you will receive a free 24" x 36"
full-color poster of Barry.
Mieze (Barbara Sukowa) in her fatal encounter
John) on the Freienwalde.
with Reinhold (Gottfried
WEDNESDAYS 7-8:30 p.m
10/10 to 11/7
WEDNESDAYS 7-9 p.m.
WEDNESDAYS 7-9 p.m.
10/3 to 10/17
Section 1: Tu 6-10 p.m
10/9 to 10/16
Section 2: W 6-10p.m.
10/10 to 10/17
Section 3: Th 6-10 p.m.
10/11 to 10/18
TUESDAYS 7-9 p.m.
OD 10/9 to 11/13
MONDAYS 7-10 p.m.
10/22 to 11/19
Monday Sept. 17
MONDAYS 7-8:30 p.m.
10/8 to 11/5
9 27 to 10 18
with eating disorders
Weekly evening sessions
Starting early October
Central Campus Location
Individual & family therapy
Insurance eligibility/sliding fee