(EINE REISE INS LICHT)
(director/writer: Rainer Werner Fassbinder;
screenwriters: Tom Stoppard/from the novel by Vladimir
Nabokov; cinematographer: Michael
Balihous; editor: Reginaid Beck;
music: Peer Raben; cast: Dirk Bogarde (Hermann),
Andrea Ferreol (Lydia), Volker
Spengler (Ardalion), Klaus
Lowitsch (Felix), Alexander
Allerson (Mayer), Bernhard
Wicki (Orlovius), Peter
Kern (Muller), Gottfried John (Perebrodov),
Roger Fritz (Inspektor Braun), Hark
Bonm (Doktor), Voli Geiler (Madame),
Hans Zander (Muller's Brother), Y Sa
Lo (Elsie), Liselotte Eder (Secretary),
Armin Mayer (1st and 2d Twin and Foreman), Gitti
Djamal (Woman in Pension), Ingrid Caven (Hotel
Manager); Runtime: 119; MPAA Rating: NR;
producer: Peter Marthesheimer; New Line
Cinema; 1978-France/West Germany-in English)
"Unpleasant but thoughtful and provocative psychodrama set in Berlin, in the 1930s."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Werner Fassbinder ("Fear of Fear"/"Whity"/"Lili
Marleen") directs this unpleasant
but thoughtful and
provocative psychodrama set in
Berlin, in the 1930s. It's based on a novel by the
Russian author Vladimir Nabokov and is co-written by
English playwright Tom Stoppard and Fassbinder. The
curio is in English even though the German filmmaker
doesn't speak the language and the British star Dirk
Bogarde does not speak German. Nevertheless, both
actor and director have said they found no problem
(Dirk Bogarde) is an aging Russian émigré
living in the Weimar-era in the 1930s, who is a
small-time manufacturer of chocolates in Berlin. He
lives with his sensual but moronic zaftig wife Lydia (Andrea
Ferreol), who is having an affair with her
cousin Ardalion (Volker Spengler).
He's an obnoxious redheaded obese bohemian
artist, with no talent.
Hermann feels a mid-life crisis coming on and also despairs about the chaotic political climate giving rise to the brutal Nazis, especially since he's half-Jewish. Believing there's nothing more to expect out of life than his material comforts and living out a petit bourgeois life, Hermann embarks on a path of madness. He devises a scheme where he takes out a life policy on himself with insurance man Orlovius (Bernhard Wicki) and gets struggling drifter Felix (Klaus Lowitsch), whom he thinks looks like him, to be his double and murders him in the country. Hermann takes over Felix's identity, but the police establish the corpse is not that of Hermann. When they identify the victim, they go to Switzerland to nab the insane Hermann.
film's problem is that Hermann's scheme is too loony
to create much further thought and the downer ending
was too plodding and carried out in such a mechanical
and tiresome way. But despite its irksome traits, it
still carries with it the weight of Fassbinder's
anarchy of the imagination, Stoppard's catchy
dialogue, a witty performance by Bogarde and the
macabre underhanded comedy that's subversively more
stinging than funny.
The pic is dedicated to Antonin Artaud (French playwright, poet, actor and theatre director, who was a troubled creative genius who spent most of his life in asylums and was addicted to drugs), Vincent Van Gogh (Talented Dutch post-Impressionist painter, who suffered from mental illness and died at the age of 37 from a gunshot wound), and Unica Zurn (German author and painter, who lived in Paris and wrote as a surrealist about her depression and committed suicide in 1970).
REVIEWED ON 7/29/2012 GRADE: B+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ