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Berlin Alexanderplatz (The Criterion Collection)
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The film (presented in 13 episodes and an epilogue) follows the daily life of Franz Biberkopf (Gunter Lamprecht) from his release from prison for the murder of his girlfriend as he tries to lead a decent life in post World War I Berlin. Along the way he becomes among other things a seller of shoestrings, a newspaper salesman, a pimp and a petty thief.
Fassbinder's world is populated with a panoply of ordinary people and lowlifes. The key is that the viewer begins to care about these people as if he knew them. One reviewer described the Biberkopf character as an uncle that the German people invited into their homes each week.
The film looks like it never looked before. Director of Photography, Xaver Schwarzenberger says that the image is now able to be seen as it was intended. Originally shot on 16mm the film has been completely restored and the color regraded. The result, while not perfect is as good as it has ever been. The film has a sort of brownish gold glow that suits it quite well.
The package by Criterion presents the film in a windowboxed version that runs for 941 minutes. This is about 4% longer than the original due to a NTSC slow down of the original Pal 25 frame per second master. The sound is mono but holds up quite well and the subtitling is clear and easy to read.Read more ›
Fassbinder was at his best when he created this epic about the lives of misfits and malcontents in 1930s Berlin. I first viewed this series over a weekend at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa; it was a marathon at two four-hour sessions on each of two days. Since then, I have viewed the VHS version several times, thankfully at a more leisurely pace. Each time I view it, I see new and different things, and appreciate the richness of the work. The acting by all players is superb, and the music and audio effects, such as the use of chimes, are hauntingly effective, creating a grim mood which envelopes the characters nearly to the point of suffocation.
Franz Biberkopf is the central character. He is released from prison at the start of the film, only to flit from menial job to job, as the Nazis turn the status quo on its head, and relentlessly and ruthlessly wrest control of Berlin and Germany.Read more ›
Berlin Alexanderplatz is about one Franz Biberkopf (literally "Beaverhead"), an almost painfully average human being, not too good-looking, not too ugly, just right to be tortured, but left alive, in 1920s agonizing Germany, about his release from prison and why he'd rather go back in instead of dealing with life. Tough luck, though, fate wants him to stay free!
Guess what, everything about this film is perfect. The rich, calm, and superbly understated performances Hollywood obscenly overpaid hax can only dream about, the opulent period-photography and splendid, virtually balletic, camerawork of Xavier Schwarzenberger, the haunting never-to-be-forgotten, magical, full of melancholy music of Peer Raben.
If you, like millions of others, are a victim of simplistic loud-and-wrongs from La-la-land, but are ready to move to another planet where film isn't measured by millions of dollars, inbred "academy" awards, and first weekend attendance on two thousand screens, then this may be your ticket. But it won't be a free ticket.
You'll need to re-learn everything you know about film and you will understand why unlearning is harder than learning from scratch. If you're ambitious enough, you'll watch it to the bitter end - and bitter it is - and your life will change (as mine did). Guaranteed. You may feel less enthusiastic about life afterwards, but at least now you'll know why.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
what can I say, Fassbinder is a master of German Cinema and at 34 developed this 18 hour movie which delves into the soul of the 20th century German.Published 19 months ago by Speedyandreliable
Berlin Alexanderplatz is a masterful, epic showcase... Fifteen and a half hours, it provides so much cinematic material, that it rivals a book for density and scope... Read morePublished on June 6, 2014 by David C. Baird
I've always been in awe of Fassbinder. I would get acquainted with some of his shorter works before digging into this. Read morePublished on April 13, 2014 by Aaron Orzech
More Greek tragedy than post Weimar era Germany, our anti hero Franz Biberkopf is just a sepia toned medium legitimizing the fall of post WW 1 Germany. Read morePublished on January 11, 2014 by Russell E. Scott
This TV series is one of the best I have ever seen. It is very addicting to watch, and the story and actors are top notch. Read morePublished on November 27, 2013 by DallasTim
Shows the difficulties of living in germany before the rise of Hitler. There was no way out for many without jobs or money.Published on October 9, 2013 by Angeles Lagos
I acknowledge that I saw all 941 minutes (or something close to that) of "Alexanderplatz" in waiting for something meaningful to happen. Read morePublished on September 2, 2012 by Randy Keehn
The reviewers who think this is a great movie must live on a different planet from me. I have never used the fast forward button so often as with this film. Read morePublished on October 28, 2011 by Old Hiker
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