Author Archives: yearof44films

A Few Words on Substances and the Artist (Prompted by Philip Seymour Hoffman, R.I.P.)

Like pretty much everyone, I reacted to the news of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s untimely death from a drug overdose with utter shock and profound sadness. After a little reflection, however, I realized the shock was probably misplaced. The real surprise … Continue reading

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Berlin Alexanderplatz – Part X: Loneliness Tears Cracks of Madness Even in Walls (1980)

Part X opens in Eva’s elegant flat—not the one she lives in with Herbert, but the one her wealthy gentleman has installed her in, the one Franz stumbled upon that day selling shoelaces, way back when he had two arms—to … Continue reading

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Berlin Alexanderplatz – Part IX: About the Eternities Between the Many and the Few (1980)

I think it’s strange. . . That it’s possible to talk and think for and against the same thing at the same time. It’s really strange. —Franz Biberkopf Franz Biberkopf is not accustomed to entertaining thoughts that appear to contradict … Continue reading

Posted in German Cinema, Melodrama, Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Berlin Alexanderplatz – Part VIII: The Sun Warms the Skin, but Burns It Sometimes Too (1980)

I don’t think I’ve mentioned the opening credit sequence in Berlin Alexanderplatz yet. That’s odd, since the credits are obviously the first thing you see in every episode and they’re always the same. A scratchy tenor on the soundtrack over … Continue reading

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Berlin Alexanderplatz – Part VII: Remember—An Oath Can Be Amputated (1980)

And so Biberkopf has come to Berlin for the third time. The first time the roofs were about to slide off, then the Jews came and he was saved. The second time Lüders cheated him, but he swigged his way … Continue reading

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Berlin Alexanderplatz – Part VI: Love Has Its Price (1980)

Cursed be the man, saith Jeremiah, that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm and whose heart departeth from the Lord. For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh but … Continue reading

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Berlin Alexanderplatz – Part V: A Reaper with the Power of Our Lord (1980)

Part 5 seems to mark a transition from one set of concerns (how is Franz Biberkopf going to make a life for himself outside of prison?) to another. Whatever those new concerns turn out to be exactly, they are, at … Continue reading

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Berlin Alexanderplatz – Part IV: A Handful of People in the Depths of Silence (1980)

Franz Biberkopf awakens in a dark, dingy, down-market room, a castaway in a sea of empty beer bottles, on a bender to beat all benders. Otto Lüders’ duplicity was just too much to bear; Franz has hidden himself away from … Continue reading

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Berlin Alexanderplatz – Part III: A Hammer Blow to the Head Can Injure the Soul (1980)

Style and form—everything rested on this. No style without morals, no morals without style. —Ingrid Caven, Interview with Katia Nicodemus, signandsight.com, 5/31/2007 Part 3 picks up where Part 2 left off: outside Max’s bar where Franz, still shaken by the … Continue reading

Posted in German Cinema, Melodrama, Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Berlin Alexanderplatz – Part II: How Is One to Live If One Doesn’t Want to Die? (1980)

After the roller coaster ride of Part 1, reality. We knew Franz’s euphoria couldn’t last. Struggling under the impossible reparations imposed at Versailles, in the midst of a global economic depression, Weimar Germany was just not a good environment for … Continue reading

Posted in German Cinema, Melodrama, Rainer Werner Fassbinder