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World on a Wire (Criterion Collection)


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Product Details

  • Actors: Klaus Lowitsch
  • Directors: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: German
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: February 21, 2012
  • Run Time: 212 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0068CEGFY
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #78,207 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

New high-definition digital restoration

Fassbinder's "World on a Wire": Looking Ahead to Today, a 50-minute documentary

New interview with German-film scholar Gerd Gemunden

New English subtitles

Trailer for the 2010 theatrical release

PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic Ed Halter


Editorial Reviews

World on a Wire is a gloriously paranoid, boundlessly inventive take on the future from German wunderkind Rainer Werner Fassbinder (The Marriage of Maria Braun). With dashes of Stanley Kubrick, Kurt Vonnegut, and Philip K. Dick, as well as a flavor entirely his own, Fassbinder tells the noir-spiked tale of a reluctant action hero, Fred Stiller (The Odessa File’s Klaus Lowitsch), a cybernetics engineer who uncovers a massive corporate conspiracy. At risk? (Virtual) reality as we know it. Originally made for German television, this recently rediscovered, three-and-a-half-hour labyrinth is a satiric and surreal look at the weird world of tomorrow from one of cinema’s kinkiest geniuses.

Customer Reviews

I like slow-pace; It's not so slow that you are bored.
KinoChelovek
Also there really is no need to contrast and compare to:The Matrix as they are two entirely different films (both of which I enjoyed).
directions
Chinese Roulette worked that way, as did Bitter Tears.
W. T. Hoffman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By KinoChelovek on March 6, 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is a movie that I've been wanting to see since I was young, but, although it was made in my time, it wasn't readily available. Alas, Criterion has finally released it, and I was so excited to finally see it!

Basically, it is a TV movie based on the early 1960s sci-fi short story by Daniel Galouye. It's about an engineer who is caught not only in an ethical dilemma on how his machine that mimics reality should be used (for the good of people or for corporate greed), but he debates whether he is in a fabricated reality or a real one. It is more, but I'm not going to ruin it.

The movie itself is an excellent adaptation of the novel MINUS the CGI effects (no flying cars, no futuristic city, no public-opinion polsters). It is made in similar style to Truffaut's "Fahrenheit 451," Godard's "Alphaville," and Barzyk's "The Lathe of Heaven" (or even, dare I say, "A Clockwork Orange"). Many sci-fi fanatics may find this problematic, but I love these movies because it makes them more "down to earth" and more human (for lack of a better word) and less "contrived" and/or reliant on special effects to tell the story.

The Criterion version has restored Fassbinder's movie, with not only an outstanding digital transfer, but "New English subtitles" (as stated on the back). I have only seen 1 scene in my life, and it was from a horrible copy! Fassbinder may not be a name associated with sci-fi, but the movie has all of his traits found in other movies he directed: muscular men of different races, overly made-up women with large, blond hair, and give-and-take dialogue. There's even a "Lili Marleen" bit! Equally masterful is his constant use of mirrors (or any reflective surfaces, such as water) and windows. It's fascinating to watch!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Robert Taylor Brewer on February 24, 2012
Format: DVD
Rainer Werner Fassbinder's film in this newly released Criterion DVD draws immediate parallels to Fahrenheit 451, François Truffaut's nightmarish vision of a world without books. Fassbinder's film is less openly allegoric, more rooted in a world where corporate interests align with science and technology run amuck. It's especially chilling that a mere 28 years prior to the making of this 1973 film, Hitler's Gestapo performed the same type of eugenics experiments, and deployed the same numbering scheme on human "units" depicted in the film. Fassbinder deploys the same rapier on journalists that he uses to skewer corporate tycoons, noting they seem more interested in helping themselves at a massive press conference feast than in unmasking the human experiments taking place under their noses.

There are several places in the film where Fassbinder could have imposed his vision and left the viewer in the dust, but he's always careful to continue the story thread, and thus keep viewers in the loop. His world is highly stylized, there are no wasted frames - nearly every camera shot is tinged with erotic undertones or duplicity in the making. Fassbinder's film career was as tinged with notoriety as it was brief - this film is as good an introduction to his work as you will find.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By directions on February 7, 2012
Format: DVD
Firstly, it should be noted that this is a Fassbinder movie regardless of genre so one would need to be receptive to his work overall to enjoy this. That said World on a Wire remains true to the novel: Simulacron-3 and although it expands on it stays within its frame work. Also there really is no need to contrast and compare to:The Matrix as they are two entirely different films (both of which I enjoyed). However it is also true as regards science fiction that less can be more such as:The Prisoner: The Complete Series (40th Anniversary Collector's Edition)
The abject minimalism of early Fassbinder, Wim Wenders and Werner Herzog may not be for all tastes but it was purposeful not due to lack of effort. Fassbinder in particular generally had screen plays where the overall ideas and themes were more important than the individual characters. World on a Wire wasn't so much a foray into the science fiction genre as an expansion of his themes into the arena. The paranoia and claustrophobia of World on a Wire is true to the original novel but also to the social climate of Germany in the 70's with the ever present reality of the cold war and anarchism (which would be further explored in documentary form in: Germany in Autumn as well as the decadence and excesses of the time.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Dennis A. Amith (kndy) TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 28, 2012
Format: DVD
In 1973, auteur Rainer Werner Fassbinder ("Ali: Fear Eats the Soul", "Lili Marleen", "The Marriage of Maria Braun", "Why Does Herr R. Run Amok") created his first sci-fi film "Welt am Draht" (World on a Wire) which aired on German television.

A common practice at the time for German filmmakers was to have a theatrical production which was then shown on television at a later time. But for Fassbinder, he created several films for television due to him wanting his work to gain popularity in Germany and the fact that there were not as many places to view cinema in Germany at that time.

The film was broken down to two parts and was an adaptation of Daniel F. Galouye's novel "Simulacron-3'.

"World on a Wire" featured a screenplay adaptation co-written by Fritz Muller-Scherz ("Fiorile", "Belle's Paradise"), cinematography by Michael Ballhaus ("The Departed", "Goodfellas", "Gangs of New York", "Dracula") and Ulrich Prinz ("Martha", "Fear of Fear") and music by Gottfried Hunsberg ("La Paloma", "Shadow of Angels").

The film would star Klaus Lowitsch ("The Marriage of Maria Braun", "Cross of Iron", "Das Urteil") as the main protagonist, Fred Stiller. The film would star actress Barbara Valentin ("Ali: Fear Eats the Soul", "Martha"), Karl Heinz Vosgerau ("The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum", "Knife in the Back"), Wolfgang Schenk ("Martha", "Effi Briest") and Gunter Lamprecht ("Berlin Alexanderplatz", "The Harmonists", "Das Boot", "The Marriage of Maria Braun").
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