Tuesday, September 25, 1984
The Michigan Daily
Berlin Alexanderplatz ist toll
By Byron L. Bull
SITTING through Rainer Werner
Fassbinder's epic 15 hour film ver-
sion of Berlin Alexanderplatz is by no
small means a very rewarding ex-
perience, but I'd hesitate before
recommending it to anyone.
Fassbinder's complex, brilliantly
conceived study of human depravity is
so bitterly, dark and devoid of hope it
leaves one drained and numb by its
Like all of the films toward the end of
Fassbinder's career, Berlin is an un-
flinching examination of German
history and the German mind. Here,
though, is Fassbinder's definitive
statement, one that tackles not only
Germany in its setting-the days before
World War Il-but finds ways to trace it.
through the present.
Fassbinder follows the life of one
Franz Biberkopf, a portly, unexcep-
tional middle age man who, having just
been released from prison for acciden-
tly beating his girlfriend to death, reen-
ters the outside world to find Germany
ravaged by depression and universal
sense of abandon.
Biberkopf moves through a variety of
unsuccessful oddjobs, from hawking
tie-clips and shoelaces on the street, to
pushing Nazi propaganda (which he
doesn't believe in but tries to sell just to
earn a living) and is left with no alter-
native but to resort to crime.
One of Fassbinder's favorite themes
was the manipulation of peoples
feelings by shrewder, calculating
types. Here, in the guise of a ruthless,
psycopathic character named
Reinhold, Fassbinder sketches his most
inhuman villain, one so vile he appears
Reinhold, throughout the course of
the story, continually victimizes
Biberkopf, who doesn't catch on until
Reinhold has shattered the meager life
he has managed to scrape up for him-
As Biberkopf, German actor Gunter
Lamprecht gives an absorbing, multi-
faceted portrayal rich in detail, and
Beyond the admirable task of simply
overcoming the massive logistics of the
production, Fassbinder's hand is as
deft as ever in evoking a concrete,
believable Berlin in its decline.
With its dark, devouring shadows
that creep over the cluttered, ram-
shackle ruins for sets, Fassbinder's
world has the perfect depressing
bleakness against which to tell his
Given its length, Berlin can be taxing
on a viewer. Understandably the pacing
requirements of such a film requires
different set of rules, Berlin does seem
to drag for a scattered hour or two.
A self-indulgent hallucinatory
epilogue, itself the length of a normal
movie, is tacked onto the end, and finds
Biberkopf wandering amongst an
apocalyptic landscape of assorted
oblique symbology (a Madonna holding
a tiny doll in a Nazi uniform, spilt
canisters of radioactive waste) with an
accompanying soundtrack montage of
Strauss, Janis Joplin, and electronic
muzak, is like a Monty Python skit gone
flat and could easily have been left out
to the films benefit.
All in all, Berlin Alexanderplatz, as
an absorbing drama and a sheerly
audacious experiment, is worth the ef-
Only one must be fully prepared to
accept the physical demands, and the
emotionally draining effect Fassbinder
wroughts on the viewer.
It's worth it in the end, but you might
need a few days to appreciate the fact.
Eva (Hanna Schygulla) clings desperately to her lover/pimp Franz
Biberkopf (Gunter Lamprecht) in the Rainer Werner Fassbinder's
monumental epic drama of lost humanity.
Time is running out. The Reagan
Administration wants Party of the
Week off the nation's campuses. "Kids
these days are already having too much
fun," said the president in an exclusive
phone interview just before dozing off.
"The Arts page need not be promoting
Ron has a point. There is a great deal.
of fun to be had out there. But contrary
to our chief thesbian's statement, we
need more promotion.
So, you say, "What can I do to make
my country great again?" It's called
Party of the Week. Submit a photo and
a few words (less than 150, please) of
your party. Tell us why it was so in-
credibly strange, normal, unique,
great, or merely human.
And we will print it.
'E/ Martha Reeves: Four shows at Joe's
By Aaron Bergman
T HE MARTHA REEVE'S show
came to Joe's Star Lounge last
weekend for four quick, but blistering
shows in front of a dancing room only
crowd, in a style reminiscent of the
Motown revues of the early sixties.
The Band opened the show with two
instrumentals. The first was a bluesy
jazz vamp which allowed the
group-made up of guitar, bass,
keyboards, drums and a four-man horn
section-to warm up. Though they were
at times guilty of Grover
Washingtonian excesses, they showed
admirable restraint in their solos, until
each man found his own groove.
They opened up considerably during
the second number by slipping into a
funkier vein, featuring a solid bottom,
crisp, bright guitar work, and fiery
Their sound was suggestive of the
She was in superb voice from the on-
set, and never let her enthusiasm
waver. She was joined in the middle of
her first song, "Come and Get These
Memories," by the Vandellas. The
Vandellas are Delphine Reeves, who
joined this incarnation of the group as a
favor to her sister, and Sandra Jackson,
(A.K.A. Lois Reeves) who joined the
group in 1966 and is also a "sister" to
Martha. Their fine back-up singing and
tight metallic costumes added to the
mid-sixties feel, which is perfectly
suited to Joe's cozy, club atmosphere.
It took the audience a little while to
unwind, but when she started singing
"Nowhere to Run," a song she uses to
cheer herself up, the dance floor filled,
and continued to be packed for the rest
of the evening.
The next tune was her first slow song
on Motown, "Love has Made a Fool of
Me." Though she performed it
beautifully, she is obviously more com-
fortable with dance tempo tunes.
"The fast ones were easy. On the slow
ones I have to give something (of
myself) up," she said. And it was fast
ones for the rest of the set. "My baby
loves me" followed "Jimmy Mack,"
her admonishment for the return of a
After promising to give the Detroit
Tigers dancing lessons, she launched
into her two biggest hits, "Dancing in
the Streets" and "Love is Like a Heat-
wave." Her encore was a Motown
medley comprised of songs like "Can't
help myself" and "Signed, Sealed,
Though the show seemed a little
short, everyone seemed satisfied thafit
had been a great set. After the show
Reeves, who had brought her family
and friends with her, said, "I had'-a
great time tonight. I loved it."
In the sixties, Motown called itself
"The Sound of Young America." Mar-
tha Reeves and the Vandellas proved
why this is still true. They are gracious
people-performers who maintain love
for their music as well as their fans.
For those who missed' them last
weekend, they will be performing at
Michigan State University November
19th, and at the Fox theater in Detroit
November 21st, as part of a show which
will include Motown greats Mary Wells,
Kim Westin, and Eddie Kendricks.
Tonight 8 P.M.
now legendary Motown
And with good reason.
nucleus of the All-Star
Society in Detroit, undert
such luminary Motown
Teddy Harris. Thought
maturity belied their
They are the
the tutelage of
average age is twenty-two) the band
created the proper introduction for
Martha Reeves performs on Friday night at Joe's Star Lounge.
Art Association celebrates 75th
The Ann Arbor Art Association
celebrated its 75th anniversary with a
reception Sunday, marking the begin-
ning of a year which features an exten-
sive education program and unique
Art classes for adults and children six
years old and up begin this week, but
registration is still open. This fall, the
association is offering beginning, in-
termediate, and advanced courses in
areas including sculpture, weaving,
graphic design, color theory, and tin-
smithing. Most of the courses, which
cost between $40 and $50, meet for two
or three hours each week and run for
The association is making a special
effort this year to attract University
students to its course offerings and
"We'd like to reach the student com-
munity and let them know about the
programs the art association spon-
sors," said spokeswoman Jo Anne
Schlesinger said she thinks part of the
problem is that many students are un-
familiar with the association. "The art
association is downtown and a lot of
students never get that far," she said.
"I think more students would be in-
volved in the programs if they were
made more aware of them."
Students can also get work experien-
ce by volunteering at the association,
she added. "People can do general
publicity work, they can work in the
education department, they can work in
the gallery shop, and they can also do
advertising and graphic design
layout," said Schlesinger. "Being in-
volved in the art association' is such a
nice change from just being a student in
Ann Arbor. It's an enjoyable way to be
a part of the Ann Arbor community in a
somewhat separated way from the
In addition to classes, also coming up
on the art association's schedule are
"Wearables," a fashion show of
clothing by 21 Michigan artists on
Friday in the ballroom of the Ann Ar-
bor Inn, and a weekend trip to Chicago
to view "A Day in the Country: Im-
pressionism and the French Lan-
dscape," and Impressionist and Post-
Impressionist show at the Art Institute
of Chicago. For more information,
those interested may call 994-8004.
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Tuesday, September 25 at 5:00 p.m.