A working-class family in Berlin in 1931 where survival is difficult, with massive unemployment in the wake of the Great Depression. After Anni's brother commits suicide in despair, her ... See full summary »
A group of German infantrymen of the First World War live out their lives in the trenches of France. They find brief entertainment and relief in a village behind the lines, but primarily ... See full summary »
In Switzerland German singer 'Willie' falls in love with Jewish composer 'Robert' who offers resistance to the Nazis by helping refugees. But his family thinks that 'Willie' is also a Nazi ... See full summary »
Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Joe May's sensual drama of life in the Berlin underworld is in many ways the perfect summation of German filmmaking in the silent era: a dazzling visual style, a psychological approach to ... See full summary »
This film, which is basically the longest narrative film ever made, is a 15-1/2 hour episodic exploration of the character of Franz Biberkopf, "hero" of Alfred Döblin's acclaimed novel, as ... See full summary »
Thymiane is a beautiful young girl who is not having a storybook life. Her governess, Elizabeth, is thrown out of her home when she is pregnant, only to be later found drown. That same day,... See full summary »
Antinea. the Queen of Atlantis, rules her secret kingdom hidden beneath the Sahara Desert. One day two lost explorers stumble into her kingdom, and soon realize that they haven't really ... See full summary »
Vienna in the biggest depression, directly after WW1. In a slum, Lila Leid, the wife of lawyer Leid is murdered, Egon, secretary of one of Leid's clients is arrested. He was with her, and ... See full summary »
Petra von Kant is a successful fashion designer -- arrogant, caustic, and self-satisfied. She mistreats Marlene (her secretary, maid, and co-designer). Enter Karin, a 23-year-old beauty who... See full summary »
Rainer Werner Fassbinder
A behind-the-scenes documentary providing viewers with an in-depth look at the making of this classic film biography of freed convict Franz Biberkopf. This made-for-TV production looks at ... See full summary »
When one director needs over 15 hours to enact a novel, it is mathematically evident that you can pack less of a tenth of that in under 90 minutes. A tour de force, a highly compressed "reader's digest" (but the novel's author Alfred Döblin also collaborated on the movie script). And also, a "Heinrich George against the rest of the world" show, if you wish.
Still, it sometimes takes a few seconds, in an otherwise tight plot, to linger on details that don't "drive" the story, but maybe that's why they stand out more in memory after watching this film. The scene where the just married couple walks from their carriage to the wedding party. Or when Reinhold drops his pen as Franz storms into his back room - that was strong cinematography in a split-second. Or the bathing scene at a lake, which has nothing to do with the personae, but offers a glimpse at a sign that proclaims triangular bathing trunks forbidden (the shape of bath-wear was indeed a hotly debated topic, up to the parliament, in 1930s' Germany).
And that scene instantly reminded me of the classic "Menschen am Sonntag" (1930, Billie Wilder, Fred Zinnemann, the Siodmak brothers and more, an early "independent" production which also features mass transit and lakeside bathing in Berlin). However, its story is harmless and relatively sweet. "Berlin - Alexanderplatz" in some way continues from there and shows deeper trouble in the big city, criminals, burglary, murder, the (not terribly strong) action of the law...
Another detail that I enjoyed: outside the courtroom, witnesses discuss: "Did you take an oath? How?" - "Oh, only worldly" (i.e. omitting the religious part). - "Ah, then it's OK".
The German Arthaus Collection/Spiegel DVD comes with an in-depth documentary on Heinrich George's life, from communist to Nazi supporter to Soviet prisoner, with interviews with his two sons (Jan and Götz George), which I also found very worth watching.
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