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Eclipse Series 39: Early Fassbinder (Criterion Collection)

4.3 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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(Aug 27, 2013)
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The Criterion Collection
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Editorial Reviews

From the very beginning of his incandescent career, the New German Cinema enfant terrible Rainer Werner Fassbinder (World on a Wire, Berlin Alexanderplatz) refused to play by the rules. His politically charged, experimental first films, made at an astonishingly rapid rate between 1969 and 1971, were influenced by the work of the antiteater, an avant-garde stage troupe that he had helped found in Munich. Collected here are five of those fascinating and confrontational works; whether a self-conscious meditation on American crime movies, a scathing indictment of xenophobia in contemporary Germany, or an off-the-wall look at the dysfunctional relationships on film sets, each is a startling glimpse into the mind of a twentysomething man who would become one of cinema’s most madly prolific artists.

. FIVE-DVD BOX SET INCLUDES:

LOVE IS COLDER THAN DEATH (1969

  • 88 minutes
  • Black & White
  • Monaural
  • In German with English subtitles
  • 1.77:1 aspect ratio) For his debut, Fassbinder fashioned an acerbic, unorthodox crime drama about a love triangle involving the small-time pimp Franz (Fassbinder), his gangster friend Bruno (Ulli Lommel), and Franz’s prostitute girlfriend, Joanna (future Fassbinder mainstay Hanna Schygulla). With its minimalist tableaux and catalog of New Wave and Hollywood references, this is a stylishly nihilistic cinematic statement of intent.

    KATZELMACHER (1969

  • 89 minutes
  • Black & White
  • Monaural
  • In German with English subtitles
  • 1.33:1 aspect ratio) Fassbinder’s second film dramatizes the intolerance of a circle of financially and sexually frustrated friends when an immigrant laborer (Fassbinder) moves to their Munich neighborhood. This scalpel-sharp, theatrical experiment (based on one of the director’s successful early stage plays) is both a personal expression of alienation on the part of the filmmaker and a comment on the persistence of xenophobic scapegoating in German society.

    GODS OF THE PLAGUE (1969

  • 92 minutes
  • Black & White
  • Monaural
  • In German with English subtitles
  • 1.33:1 aspect ratio) Harry Baer, a Fassbinder discovery, plays a newly released ex-convict who slowly but surely makes his way back into the Munich criminal underworld. Meanwhile, his attentions are torn between two women (Hanna Schygulla and Margarethe von Trotta) and the beloved friend (Günther Kaufmann) who shot his brother. This is a sensual, artfully composed study of romantic and professional futility.

    THE AMERICAN SOLDIER (1970

  • 80 minutes
  • Black & White
  • Monaural
  • In German with English subtitles
  • 1.33:1 aspect ratio) The German-born Ricky (Karl Scheydt) returns to Munich from Vietnam and is promptly hired as a contract killer. Fassbinder’s experimental noir is a subversive, self-reflexive gangster movie full of unexpected asides and stylistic flourishes, and featuring an audaciously bonkers final shot and memorable turns from many of the director’s rotating gallery of players.

    BEWARE OF A HOLY WHORE (1971

  • 104 minutes
  • Color
  • Monaural
  • In German with English subtitles
  • 1.33:1 aspect ratio) In Fassbinder’s brazen depiction of the alternating currents of lethargy and mayhem inherent in moviemaking, a film crew—played by, and not so loosely based on, his own frequent collaborators—deals with an aloof star (Eddie Constantine), an abusive director (Lou Castel), and a financially troubled production. Inspired by the hellish process of making the 1971 Whity, this is a vicious look at behind-the-scenes dysfunction.

  • Product Details

    • Actors: Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Karl Scheydt, Ulli Lommel, Eddie Constantine, Hanna Schygulla
    • Directors: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
    • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Black & White, Color, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
    • Language: German
    • Subtitles: English
    • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
    • Number of discs: 5
    • Rated:
      Unrated
      Not Rated
    • Studio: Criterion Collection
    • DVD Release Date: August 27, 2013
    • Run Time: 453 minutes
    • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
    • ASIN: B00CUKTHDO
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,146 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

    Customer Reviews

    Top Customer Reviews

    Format: DVD Verified Purchase
    I have nothing but gratitude for Criterion's release of this set. Fassbinder's early work is striking in imagination and execution. By the time of Katzelmacher and Gods of the Plague it is clear that one is watching the emergence of a major film maker. Having owned these films on European releases, I highly recommend the purchase of Criterion's set. The films are strikingly preserved and sharpened by Criterion's superior engineers and consultants. My only sadness is that Criterion is apparently not able to release all of the Fassbinder canon quickly. His films cannot be seen or contemplated too often, or so it seems to me.
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    Format: DVD Verified Purchase
    Especially if you're familiar with old American movies, you should enjoy his take on American cinema, but they'e excellent in their own right
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    Format: DVD
    Great start for a great director. Clever use of mirrors throughout the films. Awesome box set.
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