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Fassbinder, Berlin Alexanderplatz, 14 - Mein Traum vom Traum des Franz Biberkopf von Alfred Döblin: Ein Epilog 

Not Rated | | Crime, Drama | Episode aired 29 December 1980


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Episode credited cast:
Günter Lamprecht ...
Franz Buchrieser ...
Brigitte Mira ...
Roger Fritz ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Werner Asam ...
Harry Baer ...
Axel Bauer ...
Hark Bohm ...
Marquard Bohm ...


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Crime | Drama





Release Date:

29 December 1980 (West Germany)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Fassbinder's Apocalypsis
15 February 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The "Epilogue", the 14th part of R.W. Fassbinder's "Berlin Alexanderplatz", is subtitled "My dream of the dream of Franz Biberkopf" (1980). In the 13th episode, Franz had been arrested for the alleged killing of Mieze, whom Reinhold killed, and brought into a psychiatric clinic. Since then, he is in a comatose sleep, does not speak nor eat nor open his eyes. The physicians diagnose catatonic stupor. Franz Biberkopf has retired in the world of his dream. Fassbinder dreams his dream for his public letting passing revue all figures that the audience has seen in the 13 parts of the series. Most of them have passed on meanwhile. To the most impressive scenes belongs the self-description of the Jew Nachum who had told Biberkopf the famous story of Zannowich. No doubt, Fassbinder's "Epilogue" is kind of an homage to Pasolini who had been killed just three years before the filming of the Alexanderplatz began and whose last movie "Salo" (1975) had not yet left the shocked heads of the world film prominence. Specially, I refer to the scene in which naked bodies are forced with whips to move into a crematorium like building, the only place, where, by the way, Fassbinder himself is to be seen in the whole 15 1/2 hours long movie. In a long interview, that Fassbinder gave in Wolfgang Limmer in 1980, he said that Fassbinder is a Hiob-like figure and forms together with Mieze and Reinhold a special kind of trinity (Robert Fischer, Fassbinder Über Fassbinder. Frankfurt am Main 2004, pp. 517 s.). Franz Biberkopf's apocalypse starts then, when his Alter Ego Reinhold kills Mieze, thus when the "trinity" breaks apart. Although warned by Eva and Herbert to hide, Franz let himself arrest by the police on open street and in broad daylight. In his dream, that follows directly the arresting, he reenters that apocalyptic side-street, closed to both sides but amidst of Berlin where Peter Kuiper praises with his marrow-concussing voice "Die Grosse Hure Babylon" who had drank the blood of all saints and which Franz had visited many times before. Thus, the Revelation follows the abolishment of Trinity as it does in the bible. This is indeed a genial idea of Fassbinder's, and he uses now practically the whole apocalyptic apparatus between Hieronymus Bosch and George Grosz, between Caligari and Salo (and in his own work from "Niklashausen Journey" via "Shadow of Angels", "World on Wire" via "Querelle") in order to display a symphony of repulsion before the eyes of the spectator. Günter Lamprecht's probably greatest success before he came to play the main role in "Berlin Alexanderplatz" was his absolutely genuine and shocking portray of the alcoholic Manfred Burger in "Rückfälle" (TV, 1977). So, Fassbinder did not forget to let him play Franz Biberkopf in his Delirium Tremens in the famous scene with the mice. It is a long and painful trip - also for the audience - between Franz Biberkopf's arresting, death and resurrection. "Berlin Alexanderplatz" is one of the very seldom examples where the filming surpasses enormously the original novel. That the "Epilogue" was necessary from Fassbinder's standpoint results already simply from the fact that Fassbinder had transported Alfred Döblin's "expressionism" into a nightmarish description of the Status Animorum, the landscapes of the human soul, thus transferring the description of the "outer" into an "inner" Berlin. So the Meta-dream, the dream of the dream, means going one level higher in order to win an overview of all those souls of the over one hundred different characters that had been introduced in this voyage an the edge of insanity. Not for Döblin, but for Fassbinder, Biberkopf gets another chance (cf. David Holms other chance in sight of the death-carriage at New Year's Eve in Victor Sjöströms "Körkarlen" (1921)!), since he is a man "who by chance had forgotten to become an adult", as one his accompanying angels say.

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