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May I introduce you to my German spirit animal, Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Intellectually, Andrei Tarkovsky has personally always been my favourite director. But if one was to open my heart, likely an image of Fassbinder’s unwashed, disheveled, cigarettes-stained figure would be there.
For this week, I’m thrilled to share arguably Fassbinder’s most difficult (but rewarding) watch, The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant.
Filmed in only 10 days, with every scene completed in 3 takes or less (Fassbinder was renowned for not being a fan redoing things), shot in a single room, and with only five total characters. This film is simplistic, yet packed with layer upon layer of rich (and mostly cruel) subject matter.
See you there!
For our second dose of Fassbinder we are covering his most well-known work, Ali: Fear Eats the Soul.
Emmi, a sixty-year-old German woman, falls in love with Ali, a Moroccan immigrant, twenty-five years her junior. The couple faces rejection from friends and this puts a strain on their relationship.
The film was shot in just under two weeks, and was planned as an exercise in film-making for Fassbinder, to fill in the time in his schedule between the work on two other films, Martha and Effi Briest.
Ali is in part an homage to the films of Douglas Sirk, in particular Imitation of Life (1959) and All That Heaven Allows (1955). The most overt homage is the scene in which Emmi's son kicks in the television (an important symbol in All That Heaven Allows) after finding out that his mother has married a north African