In late-1920s Berlin, Franz Biberkopf is released from prison and vows to go straight. However, he soon finds himself embroiled in the city's criminal underworld.In late-1920s Berlin, Franz Biberkopf is released from prison and vows to go straight. However, he soon finds himself embroiled in the city's criminal underworld.In late-1920s Berlin, Franz Biberkopf is released from prison and vows to go straight. However, he soon finds himself embroiled in the city's criminal underworld.
There could be many reasons why Fassbinder felt so strongly about the novel and always dreamt about adapting it to the screen. He was certainly fascinated by the language of the book and he took it upon himself to narrate some of the most impressive pages as the comments to the action on the screen. Perhaps the young filmmaker was attracted to Doblin's non-judgmental approach in depicting marginality of criminal life, in accepting homosexuality and bisexuality as a part of life without neither glorifying nor demonizing them. The hero of Döblin'/Fassbinder's magnum opus is a deeply flawed man, a pimp, a thief, a murderer yet childishly naive and sympathetic who wants to start a new honest life (not pimping or joining the gang of thieves) but keeps forgetting that "The road to Hell is paved with good intentions." Fassbinder also could have seen the similarities in the political situations in Germany of 1970 and 1930.
I realize that 15 1/2 hours long "Berlin Alexanderplatz" can evoke very controversial emotions from the viewers but I believe it is impossible not to admit the brilliance and magnificence of the project and of the final product, which is without doubt a truly outstanding event in the history of the medium. Just to think that such enormous work had been finished in the course of 150 days, that Fassbinder took only three months to write the script, and how he'd envisioned the main players even before they could imagine they would participate in the project. It was incredibly interesting to watch the documentary about making BA. I found it symbolic that some parts of the film were shot using the earlier set decorations for Ingmar Bergman's "Serpent's Egg" which I like very much and don't agree that it was Bergman's mistake. I also see the influence Fellini might have had on Fassbinder - the scenes in the Red Light District could've came come from the Italian master's films who knew how to stage the "freak shows" and Barbara Sukowa's confession that she had looked at Fellini's "La Strada" to understand better the character of Mieze. Günter Lamprecht, Hanna Schygulla, and especially Gottfried John (who I believed had given the greatest performance in the film as one of the most mysterious villains ever on screen) all contributed their memories of the time they worked with Fassbinder on Berlin Alexanderplatz. I might have not perhaps "gotten" the whole complexity of the film and the novel it is based on but I feel greatness when I encounter it. Of all amazing 15+ hours, the final part, "My dream from the dream of Franz Biberkopf von Alfred Doeblin: An Epilogue" stands out even for Fassbinder. Rarely have I been so mesmerized and fascinated by what an artist's imagination is capable of as during the two final hours of the incredible filmmaking. The epilogue made me think that if ever a film director had lived who could have adapted to screen successfully "Divine Comedy", "The Book of Revelation", "Ulysses", and Goethe's Faust (the whole poem, not just a Margaret's affair) it was Rainer Werner Fassbinder. We lost our chance when he was gone and we would never see the likes of him again. Not often, I feel sorry that the film is over and I miss it as soon as I finish watching - it happened after the final scene of "Berlin Alexanderplatz" was over.
- May 2, 2008