Jorgos, an emigrant worker from Greece, joins a group of young people usually hanging around. This foreigner incites hostility and jealousy among them, and he is insulted as a "Communist" ... See full summary »
Jorgos, an emigrant worker from Greece, joins a group of young people usually hanging around. This foreigner incites hostility and jealousy among them, and he is insulted as a "Communist" and "Greek dog". After having been attacked, Jorgos talks to Maria of his wish to return home. Written by
L.H. Wong <email@example.com>
Some geniuses are made, not born. Fassbinder, who has become one of my very favorite directors, did not begin his career making masterpieces, but clumsy art films. Katzelmacher is the story of a group of bored Germans, several men and several women, who spend their lives sitting, talking, smoking, and screwing each other (often for money). They treat each other like garbage, though they are too lazy to do any real damage. However, when a Greek immigrant rents an apartment from one of them, their cruelty becomes more and more tangible. The women begin spreading rumors about how the Greek (incidentally played by Fassbinder himself) is sleeping with certain members of the group and how he has tried to assault a couple of them. The men call him a communist behind his back, and then right to his face, as he speaks almost no German. When the Greek actually begins dating one of them (played by Fassbinder's most beloved actress, Hanna Schygulla), their threats no longer remain merely threats. It's a great story, really, and, if done in Fassbinder's more honed melodrama style, one of the most unique directorial voices we'll ever hear, it could have been a great film. But, in this early stage (this was his second feature film), Fassbinder was more of an avant-guard artist, striving towards Brecht, I suppose, and maybe looking towards the French New Wave. The results are mixed, but mostly leaning towards the annoying side. The film plays like a 90 minute Calvin Klein ad, with the camera lingering too long on motionless, disinterested performers. One of the better scenes has one of the actresses singing an American song in a delightfully amateurish manner while dancing. Somehow this is very beautiful. There is a repeated scene where two characters will walk forward on the same street, arm in arm, with soft piano music in the background (the only extra-diagetic music in the film). This gimmick didn't work very well. While there are some beautiful bits of the film besides the aforementioned dance, the relationship between Fassbinder and Schygulla is rather gentle and melancholy it pretty much fails. It's very worth seeing, however, if you're interested in the way Fassbinder's amazing career developed.
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