Close Up

5 October 2019: Why Does Herr R Run Amok?


Why Does Herr R Run Amok?
Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1970, 88 min
German with English subtitles

"Herr R. has a wife and a child to love and keep company, a respectable job as a technical engineer, and a medium-sized apartment with a garden and a TV set to slump in front of: the complete middle-class existence. One night after work, as his wife idly converses with a friend, Herr R. beats both women and his child to death with the base of a candlestick. Fassbinder’s detailing of Herr R.’s empty existence is harrowing and bleakly comic in equal measure, exposing the creaking gears within the seemingly well-oiled mechanics of daily life. Fassbinder called this, perhaps not without some pride, “the most disgusting film I ever made.” He would return to a similar story of explosive rage from a completely different narrative perspective in Mother Küsters Goes to Heaven." – Film at Lincoln Center

"Herr R. predates Fassbinder's Sirk-influenced period and almost seems to reflect an influence of Andy Warhol's cinema in its low-key, incessant, seemingly improvised, quietly brilliant dialogues. But the thread that drew Fassbinder to Sirk – the relentless disrobing of the Emperor Normality to reveal, and only then show compassion for, an individual divided against his own nature – already runs through this more distanced early work." – BAMPFA

Part of our season on Rainer Werner Fassbinder