Thursday, 9 June 2011
Berlin Alexanderplatz 
Berlin Alexanderplatz, based on Alfred Doblin’s novel, is R. W. Fassbinder’s magnum opus. Consequently, it has been a gratifying experience for me to complete this staggeringly ambitious 15 ½ hour epic, albeit over a number of sittings. Evocatively shot and leisurely paced, the movie, made in 13-parts and with an epilogue that delves into the surreal and grotesque recesses of a mad man’s mind, has the power to enthrall you and test your patience in equal measures. It chronicles the turbulent life and times, and the various loves and acquaintances of Franz Bieberkoff, its gullible, good-natured protagonist. Ex-convict Franz (played with incredible passion and power by Gunter Lamprecht), who was incarcerated for 4 years for killing his girlfriend in a fit of rage, decides to lead a straight life upon being released from jail; but life has other plans for him, and it comes a full circle for him when his sweetheart Mieze is killed by the man who he considers a friend – the serpentine and womanizing Reinhold, incidentally the same man who had once pushed him out of a car with tragic consequences. The film comprises of a slew of memorable, well-defined characters (brought through courtesy excellent performances, with my favourites being the melancholic Meck, and the vivacious Eva. However, all said, this does remain a flawed film. The rambling storytelling and the overt philosophizing aside, a lot of the actions of and interactions among the characters defy reason and/or explanation. Nevertheless they are mere footnotes vis-a-vis the grand and sweeping nature of this mammoth, tragic and operatic film.
Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Genre: Drama/Psychological Drama/Political Drama/Romantic Drama