Whity is the mulatto butler of the dysfunctional Nicholson family in the south-west U.S. in 1878. The father, Ben Nicholson, has an attractive young wife, Katherine, and two sons by a ... See full summary »
Whity is the mulatto butler of the dysfunctional Nicholson family in the south-west U.S. in 1878. The father, Ben Nicholson, has an attractive young wife, Katherine, and two sons by a previous marriage; the homosexual Frank and the disabled Davy. Whity tries to carry out all their orders, however demeaning, until various of the family members ask him to kill some of the others. Written by
I recently watched the DVD of "Whity", Fassbinder's German Western. After seeing it, the fact that all the character's speek German despite the Spanish locations didn't seem out of tune at all with the overall movie.
For the record the commentary on the DVD is one of the greatest I've heard. However, Ulli Lommel and Michael Ballhaus both agree that this is Fassbinder's 5th movie. That would mean this amazingly photographed, sweeping epic--which boasts by far the best production designs of any of Fassbinder's first movies--followed the crude looking excruciating black comedy "Why Does Herr R. Run Amok?" I find this a bit hard to believe. Judging by the fact that Lommel and Ballhaus make a few factual mistakes (this was not the first Fassbinder movie with Günther Kaufmann, "Gods of the Plague" was), maybe they're a bit off. My guess is probably number 8 or 9. If it is number 5, that's amazing.
Anyhow, this is easily the most polished of Fassbinder's first movies. It's also probably up there with "The American Soldier" in terms of perverse bizarreness. You'll find lots of flaggelating, KKK, incestual undertones, homoerotism, prostitutes, bleached eyebrows and eyelashes, bad hair, greenish-white cakey makeup, and some severe mental retardation all in these frames. The odd thing is, none of it seems to be played for laughs, which only adds to the perversity. Fassbinder thought this movie was so personal to him that he didn't want anyone else to see it, or any movie theaters to show it.
Also of note, the ending of this movie is highly unusual for Fassbinder. No suicide, no crying, no corpses? I guess for the final shot, Fassbinder had his convertable engine running so he could drive off forever into the distance the second it was completed. It just seems directors don't have that type of dedication or personal anguish attached to their movies anymore. All the more reason to keep watching Fassbinder's I guess.
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