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The Stationmaster's Wife [VHS]


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Product Details

  • Actors: Elisabeth Trissenaar, Kurt Raab, Bernhard Helfrich, Karl-Heinz von Hassel, Volker Spengler
  • Directors: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
  • Writers: Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Oskar Maria Graf
  • Producers: Harry R. Sokal, Herbert Knopp, Willi Segler
  • Format: Color, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Subtitles: English
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: New Yorker Video
  • VHS Release Date: January 1, 1998
  • Run Time: 111 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6302817544
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #356,260 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

The Stationmaster's Wife, a drama of post-WWI Bavaria based on Oskar Maria Graf's novel Bolweiser, was originally presented as a three-hour-plus event for German television. In preparing his theatrical cut, director Rainer Werner Fassbinder shaved away the subplots and supporting characters to focus tightly on the story of railway stationmaster Bolweiser (Kurt Raab) and his philandering wife Hanni (Elisabeth Trissenaar). Set in late-1920s Bavaria, Bolweiser is a Nazi party man surrounded by grotesque, toadying underlings at the station but is pathetically servile to his increasingly frustrated, unhappy wife. Disgusted by her weak-willed husband, she finds passion in the arms of the butcher. Bolweiser ignores the town gossip and even perjures himself to defend his wife in a trial--an act which later dooms him. Exquisitely photographed (by Michael Balhaus) and beautifully designed, Fassbinder's lush, romantic style suffuses his caustic portrait of the self-destructive Bolweiser (a painfully perfect performance by Raab), and the petty small-town citizens who seal his fate. Even as Bolweiser sinks to the depths of self-pity, Fassbinder's gorgeous, shimmering canvas makes the small-minded doings look so much more tawdry. --Sean Axmaker

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Stalwart Kreinblaster on December 5, 2005
Format: DVD
By 1976 Fassbinder had perfected his unique visual style. Michael Balhaus, the virtuosic director of photography, was at his peak and he seemed more in tune with what Fassbinder was trying to convey in his cinema. 'Stationmaster's Wife' would be one of Fassbinder's hardest hitting films of the period. The look of the movie anticipates the dark soft lighting of Berlin Alexanderplatz, yet uses the same successful plot techniques of earlier gems like 'Martha', 'Merchant of Four Seasons', 'Ali', etc. The final scenes, in particular, remind me of the first scenes of 'Berlin Alexanderplatz' in which Franz Biberkopf is released from prison after 4 years (Bolweiser is also sentenced to 4 years) - and somehow I can imagine Bolweiser having an equally difficult time returning to society. This is clearly the beginning of Fassbinder's final phase as a director. He is starting to confront Germany's past in a way that had not been done since Luchino Visconti's 'The Damned' (one of Fassbinder's favorite movies).
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Hiram Gomez Pardo HALL OF FAME on May 28, 2009
Format: DVD
No other German filmmaker assumed the life with such Dionysian intensity and created such original scripts around the complex affective feminine universe like him. The women were for R.W.F., the central nucleus and the men simple puppets turning around her, like untiring planets over and over falling in love with them but being incapable to understand their anguishes and inner contradictions.

The station master's wife is an acerbic story, recreated on the Geramny of the twenties but based on the emblematic "Madame Bavary" . In this time, the dramatis personae turns around a bore man Bolweiser, chief commander of a station railroad who is happily married Hanni, until the existential boredom appears. She is an alluring woman who needs much affection. He is a cold and distant human being, who only compliments her around the delicious food and his unstoppable thirst of animal love, lack of tender charm.

She is owner of an enviable inheritance, and so she becomes pawnbroker of Merkl, who eventually will seduce her. The tragic thread of the happenings will be involving us more and more in this dark labyrinth of untamed passions, desperation, blame, affective blackmail and double cross that eventually will lead him to become a living wreck.

A fine and zealously photographed film, with bites of comedy at the first half of the film and a devastating tragedy at the end.

A remarkable work into the vast and audacious artistic trajectory of this unforgettable and inimitable icon of the cinema.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By SORE EYES on December 7, 2009
Format: DVD
The Station Master's Wife takes place in Werburg in the early 30's and tells the story of the town's stationmaster, Bolwieser and his wife, Hanni. Bored with marriage, Hanni schemes to help old high school friend Merkl take over the local pub by advancing him a loan from her inheritance. She then uses the pretext of meeting Merkl for loan repayments to have an affair with him. Hurt and indignant over the the gossip that she's having an affair with Merkl (she is), Hanni and Merkl launch a slander case to refute the claims. To bolster Hanni's accusations and prove his loyalty, Bolwieser lies on the stand and leaves himself open to betrayal.

I'll admit that I didn't exactly relate to the characters in this story. Hanni is convincingly tender and sweet to Bolwieser then moments later she runs to a lover to laugh at him. Hanni's possession by uncontrollable lust is explicable as a common human trait, but her cruelty to her husband is not. Bolwieser is just your average sort of man. He works hard, he enjoys some beer at the pub with his friends and he loves having sex and eating dinner with his wife. His only crime is that he's average, but most people are. Hanni definitely is. The difference is that while Bolwieser accepts his average human fate and finds what bits of joy he can in things like performing his job well and loving his wife, Hanni can't and won't. She'd rather turn herself into a truly horrible human being and embrace unbridled cruelty than accept the mundane existence she created for herself.

A good film, but not one of my favourites. While I think the film's existential theme has merit, I found its placement within the circumstances of this marriage manifested an implausible plot and characters-or maybe I just can't imagine being this cruel. Less insightful than I had hoped.
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