Fassbinder: Romantic Anarchist (Part 1)

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May 16 - June 1

One of the most prolific and influential European filmmakers of the second half of the 20th century, Rainer Werner Fassbinder completed nearly 40 feature-length films between 1969 and 1982 (the year he died at age 37) and left behind one of the most cohesive and provocative bodies of work in the history of cinema. In his many melodramas, gangster movies, literary adaptations, and even sci-fi films, he returned obsessively to themes of love, crime, labor, and social and emotional exploitation. He was similarly fixated on his beloved performers, many of whom—Hanna Schygulla, El Hedi ben Salem, Ulli Lommel, and countless others—comprised a repertory company whose fierce, complicated devotion to their visionary leader defies comparison. Our extensive two-part retrospective—the largest in New York City in over a decade—includes all of Fassbinder’s theatrical movies and many of his television films, along with several works connected with his eternally relevant artistry. Mark your calendars for Part 2 in November.

See more for less with a 3+ Film Package, or go on a Fassbinder bender with an All Access Pass ($99 for Part 1, $125 for Parts 1 + 2, subject to availability).

Get Film Comment's Fassbinder digital anthology for just 99¢, featuring 35 years of exclusive coverage including a 1975 interview, articles by Manny Farber, Roger Greenspun, and Brooks Riley, profiles of his most frequent collaborators, and more.

Wear your Rainer Werner love with our exclusive Fassbinder tote bag and t-shirt, designed by Nathan Gelgud.

In This Series

Ali: Fear Eats the Soul

Ali: Fear Eats the Soul

Rainer Werner Fassbinder | 1974 | 93 mins

This wry, tender romance/social commentary about the unlikely love between a Moroccan immigrant and an older German widow remains one of the director’s most popular films.

Read more »

Sunday, May 25

9:00pm

Saturday, May 31

3:00pm

Saturday, May 31

7:20pm
The American Soldier

The American Soldier

Rainer Werner Fassbinder | 1970 | 80 mins

An early example of Fassbinder’s pessimistic vision and his fierce, ravishing visual style, The American Soldier is a baroque homage to Hollywood cinema—film noir and gangster movies in particular.

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Sunday, May 18

3:00pm

Sunday, May 18

9:00pm
Beware of a Holy Whore

Beware of a Holy Whore

Rainer Werner Fassbinder | 1970 | 104 mins

A film’s cast and crew undergo a series of skirmishes, psychosexual charades, and nonplussed power trips in what may or may not be an accurate representation of Fassbinder’s behind-the-scenes methods.

Screening with Cuba Libre (Albert Serra, 18m).

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Saturday, May 24

6:30pm

Monday, May 26

8:20pm
The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant

The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant

Rainer Werner Fassbinder | 1972 | 124 mins

High camp and claustrophobia abound in this chamber psychodrama about the cruel cat-and-mouse games between a fashion designer, her model, and a faithful, longtime love slave.

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Friday, May 23

4:00pm

Saturday, May 24

2:00pm

Sunday, May 25

2:30pm

Bremen Freedom

Rainer Werner Fassbinder | 1972 | 87 mins

This dark-as-pitch comedy about a widow who over 15 years killed as many people using butter laced with arsenic is one of Fassbinder’s more ambitious stage-to-television experiments.

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Wednesday, May 21

7:00pm

Thursday, May 22

2:45pm

Thursday, May 22

7:00pm
Effi Briest

Effi Briest

Rainer Werner Fassbinder | 1974 | 141 mins

This take on Theodor Fontane’s tale of the rise and fall of a cosseted young 19th-century Candide whose “prison” is a manor on the Baltic Sea is among Fassbinder’s most visually ravishing.

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Monday, May 26

5:30pm

Sunday, June 01

8:00pm
Gods of the Plague

Gods of the Plague

Rainer Werner Fassbinder | 1970 | 91 mins

Fassbinder’s interest in teasing out the subtexts of American genre films is on display in this stylized noir exercise focused on the not-so-latent homoerotic tensions at the very heart of the gangster movie.

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Friday, May 16

1:00pm

Friday, May 16

5:00pm

Saturday, May 17

7:00pm
Katzelmacher

Katzelmacher

Rainer Werner Fassbinder | 1969 | 88 mins

Fassbinder’s second feature depicts the intolerance of a circle of financially and sexually frustrated friends when an immigrant laborer moves to their Munich neighborhood.

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Wednesday, May 21

5:00pm

Wednesday, May 21

9:00pm
Love Is Colder Than Death

Love Is Colder Than Death

Rainer Werner Fassbinder | 1969 | 88 mins

For his feature debut, Fassbinder fashioned an acerbic, unorthodox crime drama featuring a love triangle between a Munich pimp, a mysterious crook, and a prostitute. 

Screening with The Bridegroom, the Comedienne and the Pimp (Jean-Marie Straub, 23m).

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Friday, May 16

7:00pm

Saturday, May 17

4:30pm

Monday, May 19

4:00pm
Martha

Martha

Rainer Werner Fassbinder | 1974 | 116 mins

A beautiful virgin loses her father on a trip to Rome and falls into the arms of an older stranger. His sadism and her masochism set the stage for a claws-out satire of bourgeois marriage.

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Friday, May 23

6:30pm

Sunday, June 01

1:00pm
The Merchant of Four Seasons

The Merchant of Four Seasons

Rainer Werner Fassbinder | 1971 | 88 mins

New restoration!

In one of Fassbinder’s pivotal works and greatest achievements, an ineffectual ex-policeman newly home from the war continues to disappoint his bourgeois family by becoming a lowly fruit peddler.

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Friday, May 16

3:00pm

Friday, May 16

9:20pm

Saturday, May 17

2:30pm

Sunday, May 18

4:45pm

Monday, May 19

6:30pm

Tuesday, May 20

8:30pm

Friday, May 23

9:00pm
The Niklashausen Journey

The Niklashausen Journey

Rainer Werner Fassbinder | 1970 | 90 mins

Due to a problem with the print, all screenings of this film have been canceled. We apologize for the inconvenience.

A shepherd turns to preaching when he is visited by the Mother of God, but while his support increases, he is filled with a dissatisfaction that can be absolved only by embracing his own destruction.

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Nora Helmer

Rainer Werner Fassbinder | 1974 | 101 mins

Fassbinder’s idiosyncratic take on Ibsen’s A Doll’s House plays out as a blistering psychodrama visually refracted through latticework, curtains, prismatic glasses, and multi-paneled mirrors.

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Wednesday, May 21

3:00pm

Thursday, May 22

4:45pm

Thursday, May 22

9:00pm
Pioneers in Ingolstadt

Pioneers in Ingolstadt

Rainer Werner Fassbinder | 1971 | 83 mins

Conflict arises between a group of soldiers building a bridge in a provincial town whose motto, “Where there is no war, we’ll have to make one,” plays out in ways both trivial and profoundly dangerous.

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Tuesday, May 20

6:30pm

Friday, May 23

2:00pm
Whity

Whity

Rainer Werner Fassbinder | 1971 | 95 mins

Never distributed theatrically but long an influential cult classic, Fassbinder’s seventh feature is a hothouse gothic melodrama shot in widescreen on Sergio Leone’s spaghetti Western sets in Spain.

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Sunday, May 18

6:45pm

Saturday, May 24

4:30pm

Saturday, May 24

9:00pm
Why Does Herr R. Run Amok?

Why Does Herr R. Run Amok?

Rainer Werner Fassbinder | 1970 | 88 mins

Added screening on Monday, May 19.

Harrowing and bleakly comic in equal measure, Fassbinder’s story of explosive rage focuses on a man with a perfect middle-class existence… until he beats his family to death with a candlestick.

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Saturday, May 17

9:00pm

Sunday, May 18

1:00pm

Monday, May 19

8:30pm
World on a Wire

World on a Wire

Rainer Werner Fassbinder | 1973 | 212 mins

A film many years ahead of its time, this recently rediscovered labyrinth is a paranoid, boundlessly inventive take on the future with dashes of Stanley Kubrick, Kurt Vonnegut, and Philip K. Dick.

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Sunday, May 25

5:00pm

Monday, May 26

1:30pm


FASSBINDER AND HIS FRIENDS

All That Heaven Allows

All That Heaven Allows

Douglas Sirk | 1955 | 89 mins

Love blossoms between a suburban widow (Jane Wyman) and her handsome gardener (Rock Hudson) in Sirk’s sharp indictment of hypocrisy in 1950s America that served as an inspiration for Fassbinder’s Ali: Fear Eats the Soul and Haynes’s Far From Heaven.

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Saturday, May 31

1:00pm

Saturday, May 31

9:20pm
Far from Heaven

Far from Heaven

Todd Haynes | 2002 | 107 mins

Haynes draws from Sirk and Fassbinder in this delicate melodrama starring Julianne Moore as a housewife who discovers her husband (Dennis Quaid) is gay and forms an intimate bond with her black gardener (Dennis Haysbert).

Read more »

Saturday, May 31

5:00pm
Tenderness of the Wolves

Tenderness of the Wolves

Ulli Lommel | 1973 | 82 mins

Lommel cast his friend and mentor Fassbinder as a sexually aggressive crook in this psycho-thriller about a government inspector who moonlights as a cannibalistic serial killer.

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Friday, May 30

5:00pm

Friday, May 30

9:00pm
Water Drops on Burning Rocks

Water Drops on Burning Rocks

François Ozon | 2000 | 82 mins

Ozon’s confident third feature is an acerbic romantic farce, adapted from Fassbinder’s 1966 stage play, about a smug, middle-aged insurance salesman who falls for a beautiful teenage boy.

Read more »

Friday, May 30

3:00pm

Friday, May 30

7:00pm
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