Berlin Alexanderplatz Rainer Werner Fassbinder 1980
Was he in a hurry because he knew he would die young? A director of an amazing 45 films, Fassbinder pushed the envelope as far as working, putting that many films and several television projects in 16 years. An amazing output for someone so well-regarded.
This film is the story of a Berliner who while acting as a Pimp, murdered one of his girls, spent time in prison, and the film begins on the day he is released. He is hell-bent on staying straight.
It is tough going thru life just one step off the pace. Franz always felt as if he was just not part of society. Upon leaving prison, he vows to go straight. But he finds, as a lot of people find, that by following whats considered normal and doing the right thing, you stay one step behind. Centered around the years between World Wars in Germany, the economic situation is not far off what we have here now. Jobs are scarce. Jobs that are created are of the minimum wage variety. barely above the poverty line. So Franz always feels like half a man. And that is even before he loses an arm. So he falls back into his old ways, barely eeking out a lifestyle while trying to walk a tightrope between being straight and going against the law.
His dealings with women are even worse. He has a violent temper that flares out. His first few women are of the hand me down version from his “friend”. It’s only his old employee “Eva” that introduces him to the closest he will ever have to a Love of his Life … Mieze. Yet he doesn’t know how to treat her as well. As the life he provides for her..while better.. is still violent and still with her working as a Prostitute.
The jobs he does try are varied. Selling Newspapers both mainstream and “National Socialist” complete with Nazi armband. But he is not political. And the political beliefs he does have he pretty much keeps to himself after a run in at a local pub with the Communists.
He just walks thru life. hoping that one day his “ship” will come in, while doing nothing to even find a way to sail. And he considers Reinhold his best friend, yet it is Reinhold who makes things even tougher on him.
He receives his women from Reinhold.
At one point of the film, Franz starts crying out over and over” What is wrong with me, What is wrong with me”. But really, is anything wrong with him? He is just trying to get thru life. But he really has just never Grown up. He wanders from situation to situation with a lot of alcohol and by never investing his heart into anything. And because of that people who he feels are his friends manipulate him. Some trying to do good with his best interests at heart, but alas most without his interests and only their own on their minds.
And why do these men both fear him and bring him back into it when he wishes to be out?
It is a film in 13 parts. With an epilogue. The epilogue is bizarre. It took me two viewings to put it together. At least I think I did.
Gunter Lamprecht Plays Franz and does an amazing job, carrying the film on his back and appearing it the vast majority of the scenes.
The movie is very long. Originally a television event, from what I have read it has only been shown in theatres here as an “event” over several nights. While watching it, I definitely felt it could have been tightened up slightly. But the film is massive in effect and it is quite an amazing achievement.