Saturday, 26 October 2013

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 313: Sat Nov 9

Berlin Alexanderplatz, Part One (Fassbinder, 1980): ICA Cinema, 11am-8pm


This masterwork from Fassbinder, first aired on German TV in 1980, is part of the year-long Iain Sinclair 70x70 season. See Sunday 9th November post here for details of full programme.

Here is the ICA introduction:
Writer and filmmaker Iain Sinclair presents Rainer Werner Fassbender's seminal 1980 television series Berlin Alexanderplatz, screened from the original 35mm prints. There are two opportunities to see the full Berlin Alexanderplatz programme: on the weekend of 9/10 November with an introduction by Iain Sinclair and Chris Petit, and also on 16/17 of November 2013.

The physical momentum of the prose in Alfred Döblin’s Berlin Alexanderplatz is exhilarating, like the rush of Walter Ruttmann’s film from the same period, Berlin – Die Sinfonie der Grosstadt. Language and image cut fast. Trains. Bars. Songs. Black marketeers. Whores of all sexes. Surgeons. Detectives. Berlin in the late-Twenties was the world city, city of war-damaged grotesques out of George Grosz and Otto Dix. 

How dynamic Döblin’s book now seems, an outgrowth of the energies of place, and how muted, in comparison, how lightweight and strategically charming, the Berlin snapshots of Christopher Isherwood, which were laid out between 1930 and 1933

Isherwood’s material lends itself to Hollywood schmaltz, with his English girl, Sally Bowles, swallowed alive by a full-throttle Liza Minnelli. Berlin Alexanderplatz is scrupulously, sweatily, reimagined and composed afresh by Rainer Werner Fassbinder: a tapeworm epic for our own times, funded by new German 70x70 television money in Cologne. 

Actors, taken to the edge, perform miracles of choreographed self-exposure. They are crushed but not obliterated by the claustrophobic sets that contain them. And by the troubling memory of a book more honoured than read in a Europe that is not quite prepared to revive it.

Here (and above) is the trailer.

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