7.2/10
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12 user 33 critic

Despair (1978)

In early-1930s Berlin, an elegant Russian émigré and eccentric chocolatier convinces himself that he has seen his doppelgänger, and hatches a murderous plan to trade his existence for an entirely new one. Will he get over the deep despair?

Writers:

Tom Stoppard (screenplay), Vladimir Nabokov (novel)
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3 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

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

In early-1930s Berlin during the Weimar Republic and the Nazis' rise to power, the elegant Russian émigré and eccentric chocolatier, Hermann Hermann, leads a petite bourgeois life with his voluptuous and frivolous wife, Lydia. Troubled about his Jewish roots, Hermann convinces himself that he has seen his doppelgänger in the person of the unemployed vagabond, Felix, going as far as to hatch a murderous plan, intent on trading his very existence for an entirely new one. Now, Hermann's desire for transcendence is gnawing at him. Will he get over the full-blown mental breakdown, and the profound despair? Written by Nick Riganas

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Taglines:

A "hysterical" comedy

Genres:

Drama | History

Certificate:

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Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?

Trivia

One of the first produced theatrical movie screenplays of Tom Stoppard, and just the second of them, the first having been for The Romantic Englishwoman (1975). See more »

User Reviews

 
Visually stunning, masterfully acted, brilliantly directedadaptation of a complex Nabokov novella.
29 January 2000 | by mo-20See all my reviews

It's hard for me to stay away from excessive use of superlatives when commenting on what I consider to be Fassbinder's masterpiece. Michael Ballhaus has filmed more than a dozen Fassbinder films, and Despair is a fine example of the value of their collaboration. Several images are stunningly memorable: the water dripping on the eggshells in the sink; the circular tracking shot through the glass walls of Hermann Hermann's office revealing him in his cage; and the auto-voyeurism of Hermann watching himself in bed with his voluptuous, vacant Frau. Doing justice to Nabokov's compelling dialog and canny character studies has been well done before in Kubrick's Lolita, but Tom Stoppard's rendition here was a perfect match for Fassbinder's (and Ballhaus's) visual feast. And if you are somehow not yet a fan of Dirk Bogarde, seeing his performance in Despair will surely make you as ardent an admirer of his work as I have become.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

West Germany | France

Language:

English

Release Date:

20 September 1978 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Despair See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

DEM6,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$11,623, 16 February 2003

Gross USA:

$8,144

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$8,144
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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