early fassbinder

Early Fassbinder”

The Early Films

Amos Lassen

Fassbinder’s films from 1961-1972 are now available in a new Criterion box set. The openly gay director, Rainer Fassbinder, has never “played by the rules” even when he was just starting out. His early films show the influence of the avant-garde theater group, Antitheater of which he was one of the founders in Munich. Each of the five films here is a look into Fassbinder’s mind when he was just in his 20s.

Love Is Colder Than Death
For his debut, Fassbinder fashioned an acerbic, unorthodox crime drama about a love triangle involving the small-time pimp Franz (played by Fassbinder himself), his gangster friend Bruno (Ulli Lommel), and Franz’s prostitute girlfriend, Joanna (future Fassbinder mainstay Hanna Schygulla).

Fassbinder‘s second film dramatizes the intolerance of a circle of financially and sexually frustrated friends when an immigrant laborer (again, played by Fassbinder) moves to their Munich neighborhood.

Gods of the Plague
Harry Baer, a Fassbinder discovery, plays a newly released ex-convict who slowly but surely makes his way back into the Munich criminal underworld.

The American Soldier
Fassbinder’s experimental noir is a subversive, self-reflexive gangster movie full of unexpected asides and stylistic flourishes, and featuring an audaciously bonkers final shot and memorable turns from many of the director’s rotating gallery of players.

Beware of a Holy Whore
In Fassbinder’s brazen depiction of the alternating currents of lethargy and mayhem inherent in moviemaking, a film crew deals with an aloof star (Eddie Constantine), an abusive director (Lou Castel) and a financially troubled production”.

Fassbinder has been regarded as the “enfant terrible” of German cinema because he has always his own man and his films have always been politically charged and experimental, confrontational and fascinating. He makes films about dysfunction and he attacks xenophobia. In these early films, we see his work that led him to become such a prolific and fine director.

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