“The Punishment Begins”
Directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder • 1980 • Germany
Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s controversial, fifteen-hour BERLIN ALEXANDERPLATZ, based on Alfred Döblin’s great modernist novel, was the crowning achievement of a prolific director who, at age thirty-four, had already made over thirty films. Fassbinder’s immersive epic follows the hulking, childlike ex-convict Franz Biberkopf (Günter Lamprecht) as he attempts to “become an honest soul” amid the corrosive urban landscape of Weimar-era Germany. With equal parts cynicism and humanity, Fassbinder details a mammoth portrait of a common man struggling to survive in a viciously uncommon time.