R. W. Fassbinder’s BRD Trilogy
West Germany’s Rainer Werner Fassbinder (1945–1982) was a protean and prolific writer, actor, and director who made 41 feature films in the 13 years before his death from a drug overdose at age 37. An outspoken, left-wing homosexual and rebel, he worked with a regular stock company of friends, lovers, and family members on a series of biting, bitter social dramas depicting the immorality of the powerful and the powerlessness of the working class.
Fassbinder made one of his signature achievements between 1978 and 1982, near the end of his abbreviated life. The BRD (Bundesrepublik Deutschland) Trilogy consists of three films set during Germany’s postwar “economic miracle” of the 1950s, when the devastated nation, led by Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, restored democracy, repaired relations with other countries, and rebounded financially. But Fassbinder’s view of the era is not so rosy.
In his trilogy, Fassbinder focuses on a trio of women who are struggling to find their way in the newly strange postwar Deutschland. Unfortunately, the road to prosperity for each of them is paved with moral compromise and corruption. Fassbinder depicts a resurgent Germany with an overzealous embrace of capitalism and a too-sudden amnesia about its shameful past.
—John Ewing, Curator of Film
Each movie shown from 35mm film in Morley Lecture Hall. Admission to each is $12, CMA members $9.
In this darkly funny allegory of postwar Germany that was Fassbinder’s biggest box office hit, the German “economic miracle” of the 1950s is mirrored in the life of a sexy war bride who shrewdly builds an industrial empire.
This eerie reworking of Sunset Boulevard focuses on the last days of a movie actress popular during the Third Reich, now a drug-addicted wreck living in Munich 10 years after the war.
In this loose update of Marlene Dietrich and Josef von Sternberg’s The Blue Angel, a small-time cabaret performer pursues respectability via romances with both an upright city commissioner and a corrupt developer.