Thursday, May 7, 2009

Die Niklashauser Fart (The Niklashausen Journey)

(1970, WGer[TV], 90m)
d/sc/p Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Michael Fengler ph Dieter Lohmann ed Thea Eymèsz, Franz Walsch (RWF) pd Kurt Raab m Peer Raben cast Michael König, Hanna Schygulla, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Günther Kaufmann, Michael Gordon, Margit Carstensen, Kurt Raab, Walter Sedlmeyr, Carla Egerer

Clad in 1970 peasant garb various figures sleepwalk through fields or remain motionless in posed tableau, where they intone, declaim and converse without emotion on problems of property, labour or the economics of bear-hunting, firmly on the side of “the people” and the smashing of fascism. With undisguised citations from Godard, Rocha, fashionable Marxism and the slogans of 1968, Fassbinder takes the story of a 15th-century peasant, instructed by a vision of the Virgin Mary to overthrow his oppressors and subsequently burnt at the stake, as pretext for an enquiry into revolution. But there is deep ambivalence as to the effectiveness of armed struggle and the “happy” ending is sarcastically dismissive; Fassbinder’s character argues for the enjoyment of wealth and represents the doubtful value of art. His most directly political film is, as ever, less a thesis than a fervid call for self-examination.

© Time Out Film Guide

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