Friday, December 21, 2007

"Berlin Alexanderplatz" exhibition at MOMA's P.S.1 in Queens (with clips from my recent Juliane Lorenz episode)

Last week's Funhouse episode featured the first half of my interview with Juliane Lorenz, who served as Fassbinder's editor and partner during his life, and has become his chief legacy keeper in the quarter-century since his death, as head of the Fassbinder Foundation. I'm very proud of the ground covered in our interview, as we discussed not only the restoration of Berlin Alexanderplatz, but also her work on acquiring, restoring, and re-releasing various other Fassbinder films. We also discussed Fassbinder's very unique manner of shooting and having his films edited (something that is only suggested for the geniuses among us).

As I prepared the episode, I focused so heavily on finding the appropriate clips from the current mammoth release of Berlin Alexanderplatz from the Criterion Collection that I neglected to mention the current exhibition of the film at MOMA's P.S. 1 out in mine own native borough of Queens. The exhibit runs until January 21st of 2008 (all the info can be found here), and includes showings of each individual episode in 14 separate screening rooms (while the whole thing plays on a main screen). I have yet to make the pilgrimage, but will certainly be doing so during the Xmas holiday from office work. I haven't yet considered which episodes I would choose to rewatch over again after having so recently viewed the entirety of this masterwork (which is a dense, brilliant work that is not as blissfully candy-coated as Fassbinder's best known "German woman" films -- it's anguished stuff for long stretches, but exquisitely anguished). I think that, out of context, it would have to be Franz Biberkopf's happier moments: his girlfriend-swapping with Reinhold (ep. 5) and his first meeting with Mieze (ep. 8). But the most re-viewable passages of this overwhelmingly brilliant work would have to be the completely mind-warping fantasies contained in the epilogue, "My Dream of Franz Biberkopf's Dream." In any case, the P.S. 1 exhibit features a reproduction of his storyboards, his own annotated version of Alfred Doblin's novel (which my Fassbinder obsession in college led me to read), and the audio tapes he recorded for the film's narration. A must-visit for cultists like all of us.

And to whet the appetite, I offer this segment of my interview with Ms. Lorenz, on the topic of Fassbinder shooting only one take of most scenes (with two clips from Alexanderplatz and a fascinating making-of docu):

Click here if the above doesn't work.

And a minute of Fassbinder himself talking about the film and its political message (which has interesting echoes for those of us living in the wildly conservative present-day U.S.). This comes from Lorenz's documentary Fassbinder's Berlin Alexanderplatz, which is found in the Criterion box:

Click here if the above doesn't work.

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