Fassbinder. He certainly burnt the candle at both ends- he seemed to exist only to do drugs, drink, and make movies (when they found his body he had the script for his next movie lying next to him). I’ve still got some work to do on his films but I’ve caught over 20 and have 11 of them in the archives (with a few on the border that will probably make it with another viewing). He died at age 37. During his life he directed 39 feature fiction works in 14 years (1969-1982) which is staggering. He has 5 films in the top 500 and 9 in the top 100 of their respective decade show incredible depth. The images here and depth of filmography would suggest a top 25 auteur—I’m just lacking that one film in the top 200 or so to vault him up the rankings.
Best film: Veronika Voss. It’s Fassbinder’s most visually stylish film, his best film, and the second to last film before his death. So tragic.
total archiveable films: 11
top 100 films: 0
top 500 films: 5 (Veronika Voss, The Marriage of Maria Braun, Ali: Fear Eats the Soul, Lola, Berlin Alexanderplatz)
top 100 films of the decade: 9 (Veronika Voss, The Marriage of Maria Braun, Ali: Fear Eats the Soul, Lola, Berlin Alexanderplatz, Fox and His Friends, The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, World on a Wire, In a Year with 13 Moons)
most overrated: This incredibly beautiful image aside I can’t get behind TSPDT’s ranking of In a Year With 13 Moons. They have it at #377 and #3 for Fassbinder—I have 13 Moons outside of my top 500 and as Fassbinder’s 9th.
most underrated: The entire BDR trilogy (The Marriage of Maria Braun, Veronika Voss, Lola). Google it and pick it up if you want to start a Fassbinder study. I have it as his #1, #2, and #4 films. I’ll have to check it out again soon to make sure it just wasn’t the case of some of his films exceeding my expectations and some not living up to it–but this is where I am now. They’re so visually stylish. They’re all underrated but if I had to single out one it would be Lola which isn’t in the TSPDT top 1000 at all and the other two are. This is also what makes Fassbinder’s early death all the more tragic- these were all at the very end of his career which makes he was really getting better and hitting his peak as he died.
gem I want to spotlight: The Marriage of Maria Braun. Read the RT reviews. “Enormous”, “visually breathtaking and intellectually demanding”, “a masterwork” “alarmingly frightening”. Like I said this is the starting point of the BDR trilogy.
stylistic innovations/traits: He’s part Douglas Sirk (who I keep forgetting was also German), part Godard (counterculture– certainly Lola is visually influenced by the French New Wave and Pierrot in particular) and wholly Fassbinder. Certainly Almodovar and Todd Haynes owe a lot to Fassbinder (they also borrow from Sirk). His films are a part of the unbelievable cinematic outburst from Germany during the era (often called the German New Wave – it’s Fassbinder, Herzog and Wenders leading the way). He took sharp aim at West Germany in many ways and Fassbinder was a champion of subculture or counterculture cinema. As David Quinlan says on TSPDT “there is something hypnotically fascinating in the way some of Fassbinder’s characters destroy themselves.” Visually Fassbinder favored striking set pieces and a rich and detailed mise-en-scene which seems crazy for as prolific as he was. The images here are magnificent- framing—clearly an all-time master of mise-en-scene.
- Veronika Voss
- The Marriage of Maria Braun
- Ali: Fear Eats the Soul
- Berlin Alexanderplatz
- Fox and His Friends
- The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant
- World on a Wire
- In a Year with 13 Moons
- The Merchant of Four Seasons
By year and grades
|1972- The Merchant of Four Seasons||R|
|1972- The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant||HR|
|1973- World on a Wire||HR|
|1974- Ali- Fear Eats the Soul||MS|
|1975- Fox and His Friends||HR|
|1976- I Only Want You To Love Me||R|
|1978- In a Year With 13 Moons||HR|
|1978- The Marriage of Maria Braun||MS|
|1980- Berlin Alexanderplatz||MS|
|1982- Veronika Voss||MS|
*MP is Masterpiece- top 1-3 quality of the year film
MS is Must-see- top 5-6 quality of the year film
HR is Highly Recommend- top 10 quality of the year film
R is Recommend- outside the top 10 of the year quality film but still in the archives