Berlin Alexanderplatz, Parts XII, XIII, Epilogue

XII: The Serpent in the Soul of the Serpent (Die Schlange in der Seele der Schlange). XIII: The Outside and the Inside, and the Secret of the Fear of Fear (Das Aussere und das Innere, und das Geheimnis der Angst vor dem Geheimnis). Epilogue: My Dream of Franz Biberkopf's Dream (Mein Traum vom Traum des Franz Biberkopf)

Restored in 2006, Berlin Alexanderplatz is the summa of Rainer Werner Fassbinder's art, and the culmination of his lifelong relationship to Alfred Döblin's monumental novel of 1920s Berlin-a book the filmmaker said was “embedded in my mind, my flesh, my body as a whole, and my soul.” Fassbinder pours knowing tenderness into the characterization of Franz Biberkopf (Günter Lamprecht), an unemployed lumpen worker who earns his living as a thief and pimp following a stint in jail for murdering his mistress. Franz is a jovial if explosive figure in the Alexanderplatz district of Berlin, a man with optimistic dreams, a determination to “go straight,” and an absurd faith in love. The film chronicles the destruction of this faith, amid the poverty, hypocrisy, and violence of Berlin in the years just before Nazism took full hold.

At fifteen and a half hours, Berlin Alexanderplatz comes closer than most film experiences to the engagement that a good novel offers. The beauty, richness, and cohesion of Fassbinder's style can here be fully appreciated as it links one chapter to the next.

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