MOVIEmeter
SEE RANK
Down 33,184 this week

Despair (1978)

7.2
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.2/10 from 1,021 users  
Reviews: 9 user | 28 critic

Germany in the early 1930s. Against the backdrop of the Nazis' rise, Hermann Hermann, a Russian émigré and chocolate magnate, goes slowly mad. It begins with his seating himself in a chair ... See full summary »

Writers:

(screenplay), (novel)
0Check in
0Share...

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 30 titles
created 02 Feb 2011
 
a list of 36 titles
created 01 Jan 2012
 
a list of 36 titles
created 15 Mar 2012
 
a list of 22 titles
created 17 Jul 2013
 
a list of 44 titles
created 7 months ago
 

Related Items

Search for "Despair" on Amazon.com

Connect with IMDb


Share this Rating

Title: Despair (1978)

Despair (1978) on IMDb 7.2/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of Despair.
3 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Veronika Voss (1982)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Munich, 1955: A sports journalist meets Veronika Voss, an UFA actress who supposedly had an affair with Goebbels. Now declining, Voss is kept by her "kind" doctor, Dr. Katz, supplying her ... See full summary »

Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Stars: Rosel Zech, Hilmar Thate, Cornelia Froboess
Effi Briest (1974)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

In the nineteenth century, seventeen year old Effi Briest is married to the older Baron von Instetten and moves into a house, that she believes has a ghost, in a small isolated Baltic town.... See full summary »

Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Stars: Hanna Schygulla, Wolfgang Schenck, Ulli Lommel
Whity (1971)
Drama | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

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 »

Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Stars: Ron Randell, Hanna Schygulla, Katrin Schaake
Lili Marleen (1981)
Drama | Music | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

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 »

Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Stars: Hanna Schygulla, Giancarlo Giannini, Mel Ferrer
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A wealthy couple, with a daughter Angela, a young teen who walks with crutches, tells each other they are off for the weekend on business (he to Oslo, she to Milan). Actually, both are ... See full summary »

Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Stars: Anna Karina, Margit Carstensen, Brigitte Mira
I Only Want You to Love Me (TV Movie 1976)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A man is interviewed by a sympathetic woman. His tale unfolds, of hard work that never pleases his parents, of a father who denigrates his efforts, of an indifferent mother. He builds them ... See full summary »

Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Stars: Vitus Zeplichal, Elke Aberle, Alexander Allerson
Drama | Crime | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Franz "Fox" Biberkopf is a working-class guy, at loose ends when his lover is arrested and the police shutter their carnival booth. In need of cash for his weekly lottery purchase, Fox lets... See full summary »

Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Stars: Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Peter Chatel, Karlheinz Böhm
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A World War II widow seeks to adjust to life in postwar Germany.

Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Stars: Hanna Schygulla, Klaus Löwitsch, Ivan Desny
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

On a film set there are two things missing, the film material and the director. So the actors and actresses as well as the crew try to make the best out of the situation. When the director ... See full summary »

Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Stars: Lou Castel, Eddie Constantine, Marquard Bohm
Lola (1981)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Ten years after the war, West Germany's market economy is booming. Into an unnamed city that's rife with corruption comes a new building commissioner, Herr von Bohm, committed to progress ... See full summary »

Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Stars: Barbara Sukowa, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Mario Adorf
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

A man is released from prison and finds the society on the outside less than appealing. With several women as well as the police on his tail, he sets out to find an old friend.

Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Stars: Hanna Schygulla, Margarethe von Trotta, Harry Baer
Querelle (1982)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

French sailor Querelle arrives in Brest and starts frequenting a strange whorehouse. He discovers that his brother Robert is the lover of the lady owner, Lysiane. Here, you can play dice ... See full summary »

Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Stars: Brad Davis, Franco Nero, Jeanne Moreau
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Herman
Andréa Ferréol ...
Lydia
Klaus Löwitsch ...
Felix
Volker Spengler ...
Ardalion
Armin Meier ...
Silverman / Sergeant Brown / Foreman
Peter Kern ...
Müller
Adrian Hoven ...
Inspector Schelling
Alexander Allerson ...
Mayer
Hark Bohm ...
Doctor
Roger Fritz ...
Inspector Braun
...
Perebrodov
Y Sa Lo ...
Elsie
Lilo Pempeit ...
Secretary Schmidt
Ingrid Caven ...
Hotel Manager
Voli Geiler ...
1st Landlady
Edit

Storyline

Germany in the early 1930s. Against the backdrop of the Nazis' rise, Hermann Hermann, a Russian émigré and chocolate magnate, goes slowly mad. It begins with his seating himself in a chair to observe himself making love to his wife, Lydia, a zaftig empty-headed siren who is also sleeping with her cousin. Hermann is soon given to intemperate outbursts at his workers, other businessmen, and strangers. Then, he meets Felix, an itinerant laborer, whom he delusionally believes looks exactly like himself. Armed with a new life insurance policy, he hatches an elaborate plot in the belief it will free him of all his worries. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

|

Language:

Release Date:

20 September 1978 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Despair - Eine Reise ins Licht  »

Box Office

Budget:

DEM 6,000,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The film was made and released about forty-four years after the film's source novel of the same name by Vladimir Nabokov had been first published as a serial in the literary journal 'Sovremennye Zapiskiin' in 1934, about forty-two years after it was first published as a novel in 1936, about forty-one years after its first English language translation by Nabokov himself was first published in 1937, and about thirteen years after its second English language translation was first published in 1965, which is the main version of the source novel which is available, as most of the first original translations were destroyed by the Germans during World War II. See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Left me unmoved and uninvolved
23 November 2003 | by (Vancouver, B.C.) – See all my reviews

Shot in English on a budget that nearly equaled the cost of his first fifteen films, Rainer Werner Fassbinder's Despair has wit and style yet its attempt to recreate the dark, comedic genius of Vladimir Nabokov left me unmoved and uninvolved. Based on Nabokov's novel Despair (apparently intended as a parody of Dostoevsky), and adapted for the screen by Tom Stoppard, the film describes the descent into madness of wealthy chocolate entrepreneur Hermann Herman (Dirk Bogarde). Set in Germany on the eve of the Third Reich, scenes of the Nazis assaulting Jewish-owned businesses are sprinkled throughout the film but to no apparent purpose. Herman has left his Russian home to live in Berlin and constantly fantasizes about the beauty of the Russian winters and whispers `Russia, which we have lost forever...' to his wife, Lydia (Andrea Ferreol). He is a thoroughly unsympathetic character: cold, calculating, and cynical and Mr. Bogarde's exaggerated mannerisms do not make him any easier to appreciate.

Much of the film takes place inside Herman's stately bourgeois home. Shots of the characters through glass partitions keep the viewer at a distance and the elegant interiors look like an abandoned mausoleum. Lydia's and Herman's relationship is unconvincing and Fassbinder's repeated descriptions of Lydia as an unintelligent sex object border on misogyny. "The flowers of your sensuality would wilt with intelligence," Herman tells his wife whom he always addresses with condescension. In addition to Lydia, we gradually meet other vivid supporting characters: Lydia's cousin, Ardalion; and Dr. Orlovious, an insurance salesman whom Herman mistakenly thinks is a psychiatrist and opens up to.

Herman is convinced that Felix Weber (Klaus Lowitch), a laborer, resembles him as closely as "two drops of blood." though the resemblance is tentative at best (a joke Nabokov wisely saved for his readers until the end of his novella). He has an odd compulsion to observe himself as a stranger and devises a plan to commit the perfect crime, exchanging identities with the worker as a means of escaping his existence. Felix, on the other hand, decides to humor the eccentric Herman with the thought of getting a job. In Despair, Fassbinder constructs a world in the process of falling apart where people march inexorably toward self-destruction and where the journey into light proves to be an illusion. In a world approaching madness, however, Hermann seems to fit perfectly -- no more, no less crazy than the insanity occurring around him.


13 of 29 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Release Date? williamsonkwr
If you're in the UK and need the beautiful U.S Blu-ray trueclassics
Discuss Despair (1978) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?