FILM AT 11: German filmmaker lauded for dystopian works


No one ever talks about German film. Once it emerged from the post-war malaise (much like the music of that country), it spoke volumes for the amount of change and reflected the other cultures around it as well.

 Rainer Werner Fassbinder deserves a lot of credit for making films that are visceral, thought-provoking and yet a distinct tribute to American film. In his brief lifetime, Fassbinder made 44 films in 15 years. His early works are rooted in his theatre background, however once he embraces technology - they continuously challenge the evolving vocabulary of film.

1973's "World On A Wire" is a serious test for Fassbinder. Based on a science fiction novel by New Orleans-native Daniel F. Galouye, Fassbinder plays hard and fast with the story, while allowing his narrative to veer into melodramatic territory to create a world that is truly unreal.

Borrowing heavily from Douglas Sirk, the production design is based on numerous mirrors and glass rooms. Fassbinder settles on colors they are vivid enough to draw emotion from you (Park Chan-Wook's "The Little Drummer Girl" on AMC from last fall is the only worthy comparison).

In Fassbinder's world, no one is to be trusted. Every piece of dialogue is to be examined for hints of irony, words that express falsehood. This script paired with unnatural camera angles and a multitude of tracking shots from Michael Ballhaus keep you consistently on edge and guessing what comes next. His men are gruff and curt with each other, often speaking in silences. While the women are all perfectly dressed and made up to an android-like perfection. 

One cannot help but watch this two-part German drama and see where ideas were drawn for "Blade Runner" and all the detached dystopian works that follow.