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21 December 2019: Effi Briest


Effi Briest
Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1974, 141 min
German with English subtitles

"Theodor Fontane’s 1894 novel Effi Briest holds a position in Germany analogous to that of Madame Bovary in France. Fassbinder’s film is both a faithful adaptation of the novel and a subtle manipulation of its structure. The result is a unique double perspective that recreates the nineteenth century and offers a modern analysis of it in terms of the rise of fascism and the oppression of women. Effi Briest (Hanna Schygulla), a vivacious mixture of nonconformity and mediocrity, is married when very young to a much older Prussian diplomat. Carried away to a remote Baltic port by her pedagogical husband, Effi drifts into a brief, passionless affair with a local womanizer. The full effects are only felt six years later, in a chilling manifestation of the Prussian code, but are reflected throughout in the intensity of Fassbinder’s visual style – gleaming black surfaces sharply etched against pale backgrounds; the elaborate use of mirrors, screens, and curtains; and the desolate beauty of sand dunes and pine forests." – BAMPFA

Part of our season on Rainer Werner Fassbinder