Originally aired in two parts on German television in 1973, this three hour masterpiece is a real trip. But I'm not going to discuss the plot here, that's what Wikipedia is for (see here). Instead, I'd rather discuss style and decor, and make once again my argument that we not discount the entire decade that was the 70s out of hand as an aesthetic wasteland.
Truth be told, the look of this movie is my decor ideal. The buildings have a brutalist vibe, all white concrete and glass cubes. The cars outside are big and luxurious, with lots of corners. Inside, the decor is that rare and difficult to reproduce early 70s post-modern eclectic blend of things like stark white rooms containing a mixture of glass and chrome furniture, ornate antiques, brightly colored plastics, oriental rugs, classical busts, abstract paintings....and maybe a German motorcycle helmet attached to wires suspended over a Le Corbusier lounge chair that allows one to connect with the simulated computer world. So much cooler than my Toshiba laptop. And let's not forget the big heavy analog technology all over the place. Sub-titles (and everything else) in Helvetica are de riguer. The people you see in magazines like Dwell think they get it, but it's just not the same.
See what I mean? In all the office scenes, this character is always shot in reflection in this weird silver globe, rubber tree plant behind here, electric typewriter before her.
Clothing-wise, we get a lot of men in business suits. As one might expect, the ties and lapels are really wide, and we get some awful black shirt/white tie combinations, but generally speaking there's a real 1930s vibe running through it, as seen here in main character Fred Stiller's hat and chalk striped double breasted suit. At other points in the film, he wears a grey tweed suit with a half belt and pleated back. Not all bad, if a bit exaggerated. Remember, the 1970s were the last period when a man in an office dressed this way was not eccentric or unusual. The details may not be to our liking, but the but the overall concept of dressing well as a matter of course hadn't yet died.
Frequent scenes feature characters in evening wear. Not for trips to the opera or anything like that, just restaurants and dinner parties. Tom Ford, by the way, can thank our Herr Lowitsch for not only the strikingly masculine tailoring of his clothes, but also his haircut. And hipster girls all over Brooklyn don't even know what they owe to Mascha Rabben.
Even this guy, evil-security-director Edelkern, looks sharp, and surprisingly timely, in his navy three piece suit paired with awning striped shirt and solid grenadine tie.
I love this movie. If you've got three hours to kill, watch it. Hulu Plus has a good version with subtitles. Looks like I've found a new (anti) hero in this Fassbinder cat.
Update: here's a link to an interesting short film on "the making of...", also worth a look.
p.s. Speaking of why stuff from the 70s may actually be, dare I say it, cool, I've finally gotten around to adding Barima to the blog-roll. That kid gets it for sure, go see.
p.p.s.new stuff in the Shop.