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Berlin: City in the Movies
Posted February 19, 2010 to photo album "Berlin: City in the Movies"
Scott Macaulay clicks through the various characters this city has played.
Slide 7: Berlin Alexanderplatz - City of Consciousness
As James Joyce’s Ulysses attempted to capture the entire fabric of Dublin life in a single novel, so too Berlin in Alfred Doblin’s Berlin Alexanderplatz. Employing a literary device inspired by German artist Kurt Schwitters’ collage, Doblin, wrote Ronald Hayman in his biographical study Fassbinder, “approximated as closely as a novelist could to this technique, interpolating into his narrative scraps from sentences that might be running through the consciousness of people in the city – fragments from popular songs, advertising slogans, sports reports, stock exchange results.” The 1929 novel depicts the struggles of Franz Biberkopf, released from prison for murdering a girl he was pimping, to lead a straight life. For Fassbinder’s adaptation (the book’s second; it was first filmed in 1931), the great director focused on Biberkopf’s relationship with a treacherous friend, Reinhold, for whom he acts as a kind of relationship “fixer” by romancing Reinhold’s discarded and distraught lovers. Fassbinder, who actually wrote the script for his 15 ½ hour film during a stay in Paris, was fascinated by the ambiguous, quasi-sexual relationship between the men, and by the depth with which Doblin captured Biberkopf’s moral struggles. The film was broadcast in 14 episodes in 1980 and then played the U.S. in an innovative multi-night series of theatrical screenings. Recently the decaying 16mm camera negative was restored in a new 35mm version, which was released on DVD by Criterion Collection.