(Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1980)
Adapted from the Alfred Döblin novel of the same name, the short series of 15 ½ hours is an achievement in storytelling and book adaptation. With the boldness of Herr Fassbinder and his fascination for the History of Germany in the first half of the 20th Century Berlin Alexanderplatz holds a cult status amongst cinephiles.
Here is the setup for the whole fresque that is Berlin Alexanderplatz a parallel with Germany and its History. Alfred Döblin’s novel is one of the most iconic novels of the Weimar Republic and is considered a masterpiece of literature. Director Rainer Werner Fassbinder always felt he had a close link with the novel and its protagonist Franz Biberkopf. Fassbinder said he read the novel at age fourteen and it helped him during his puberty. So Berlin Alexanderplatz is like the culmination of his exploration of the History of Germany.
The first chapter of the mini-series sets the pace of the story and shows how Franz is a man with his own way of doing things like sex. He is a rough man and he scratches everything on his way. We also discover that he is into a series of karma-like bad luck and unlucky destiny. As many Fassbinder characters he has a peculiar sexuality and he represents a bold character in a frail world where everyone seems to be living a tenuous existence. It looks like every female character has something broken in it and Franz has this self-confidence that makes him attractive in his dangerous behaviors.
Keep coming back for the Marchbinder month and we’ll go on with the mini-series of Berlin Alexanderplatz and its exploration of Fassbinder, Germany, and Franz Biberkopf.