This is a reprise presentation of MoMA’s restored 35mm print of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Berlin Alexanderplatz—called the “Mount Everest of modern cinema” by film critic Andrew Sarris—which was last screened at the Museum in 2006. Laurence Kardish, former senior curator in the Department of Film, described the film as “a breathtaking achievement in a career filled with remarkable works…shot, edited, and scored over six furious months with one hundred principal and supporting actors, resulting in a film more than 15 hours long, divided into 13 parts and an epilogue.” Produced for German television in 1980, the film was released theatrically in New York in 1983.
Based on Alfred Döblin’s epic novel about the declining days of the Weimar Republic, Berlin Alexanderplatz traces the fall of Franz Biberkopf, an urban Everyman, as he slogs through a debased society compromised by unemployment, violence, anomie, and promises of social order proclaimed by contradictory political parties. Fassbinder adapted Döblin’s complex narrative for the screen and also composed an original two-hour epilogue in which Biberkopf ventures through a tempestuous dreamscape, metaphorically emerging from his and Germany’s experiences.
Under the guidance of Xavier Schwarzenberger and Juliane Lorenz (the film’s cameraman and editor, respectively), the original 16mm negative was digitally remastered and transferred to 35mm with a 1:1.37 aspect ratio and new English subtitles.
Organized by Anne Morra, Associate Curator, Department of Film.