Then he took Berlin
RAINER WERNER FASSBINDER COMMEMORATIVE EDITION, VOLS 1 AND 2 BERLIN ALEXANDERPLATZ
It would be an understatement to describe German writer-director Rainer Werner Fassbinder as prolific. By 1982, when he met his untimely death from a drugs overdose at the age of 36, he had made close on 30 feature films and a monumental TV series, and the quantity of his output was matched by its quality. A true original talent, Fassbinder produced a body of work marked by social realism and rooted in emotional honesty.
Many of Fassbinder’s best films are now available on two boxsets. The first volume features nine movies he directed between 1969 and 1972. Among them are Katzelmacher, exploring one of his recurring themes, the treatment of immigrants in Germany; The Merchant of Four Seasons, following a man’s rebellion against capitalism and his bourgeois background; and The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, observing the lesbian relationship between a fashion designer and her new assistant.
Eight films from 1973-1982 are featured in the second volume, including Fear Eats the Soul, in which a Berber immigrant becomes involved with an older woman; Fox and His Friends, in which Fassbinder plays an exploited working-class gay man; and The Marriage of Maria Braun, examining post-war Germany through the experiences of a woman vividly played by Hanna Schygulla.
Available separately on a sevendisc DVD with copious extras is Fassbinder’s enthralling 1980 TV epic, Berlin Alexanderplatz (pictured above with Hanna Schygulla). Based on Alfred Doblin’s novel and running more than 15 hours, presents an unflinchingly critical picture of Germany during the Weimar era of the 1920s, as seen through the eyes of a morally complicated ex-convict, memorably played by Gunter Lamprecht.