ACIDEMIC Journal of Film and Media

LOLA: Love and Marriage; Fassbinder and Brecht

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Peter K. Tyson

For a gay film director,[1] it seems rather paradoxical that Fassbinder should have two wives fighting over him. From 1970-72, he was married to his first wife Ingrid Caven (b. 1938),[2] who appeared in his films and theatre productions. It turns out that Fassbinder was actually bisexual (as was Caven). His second wife, Juliane Lorenz, has proved highly controversial. Aged 19, she began working with Fassbinder as assistant editor on Chinesisches Roulette (1976) and then went on to edit later works like Despair (1978), Berlin Alexanderplatz (1980) and Querelle (1982). Fassbinders mother, Liselotte Eder, who had also appeared in his films under the name Lilo Pempeit, set up the Fassbinder Foundation in 1986, which she then passed over to Lorenz before her death in 1993. Lorenz went through a dubious wedding with Fassbinder in 1979, giving different accounts to explain why she could not produce a valid marriage certificate.[3]Caven is particularly scathing towards Lorenz, accusing her of faking her marriage and distorting Fassbinder's life story:
Peer Raben and I knew how Juliane Lorenz [...] falsified and altered Rainer's story. She fabricated a marriage with Rainer [...] She only resurfaced when the question arose of who would inherit when the mother died. Then suddenly the story emerged about her alleged marriage. She would also tell his mother that Rainer was never really gay, that he didn't take drugs and that actually he'd got quite domesticated by the end.[4] 
 She is also disgusted by the way that Lorenz has ostracized Fassbinder's former associates: 
I and many others believe Juliane Lorenz is morally unsuited to manage his legacy, not only because she has constructed the whole thing on a massive lie. She has shut out almost all the people who worked most closely with Fassbinder [...] There are countless falsifications and half truths [...] As a result a life is being censored.[5] 
 The situation got so bad that twenty-five of Fassbinder's former colleagues (including Caven, Ulli Lommel, Rudolf Waldemar Brem, Günther Kaufmann and Ursula Strätz) published a letter demanding that Lorenz should step down from the Fassbinder Foundation. As well, her re-issue of Berlin Alexanderplatz was criticized for being markedly brightened in order to make it more palatable to consumers[6] after Fassbinder had originally fought hard to keep its dark visual hues intact (the atmospheric dark lighting had caused a TV scandal when the series had been first broadcast in Germany).

Fassbinder not only had problems with his male and female lovers but also had difficult working relationships with many of his actresses. He had frequent disagreements with his star Hanna Schygulla, who for certain periods refused to work with him.[7] Irm Hermann, who was a regular actress in his films and theatre productions, complained that "he almost beat me to death"[8] and it took a long time before she could stand up to his abuse. Margit Carstensen (b. 1940), another Fassbinder star, felt that he had provoked, tormented and humiliated her during the making of Martha (1974, left).[9] Fassbinder certainly seems to have enjoyed bullying and dominating his lovers and colleagues! Indeed, when he ran his own theatre, the Theater am Turm in Frankfurt in the 1970s, this cooperative soon collapsed because of factionalism, as complaints emerged about his whims, divisiveness and favouritism.[10] According to Rosalind Hodgkiss, "the strongest condemnations of marriage come in the films following this break up [from Caven]" -- Effi Briest (1974) which, based on Fontanes novel, depicts a stifling, loveless mismatch and Martha (1974), his update of Effi Briest and "an even bleaker portrait of marriage."[11]

Lola (1981) comes a few years later, towards the end of Fassbinder's short tragic life, and gives us an opportunity to examine whether his attitudes to love and marriage have mellowed since his divorce from Caven. But first, before assessing Lola in detail, it is necessary to look at Brecht's influence on Fassbinder. In his study of Fassbinder's work in the German theatre, David Barnett argues against those critics who exaggerate the influence of Antonin Artaud [12] on Fassbinder while downplaying the importance of Brecht: "non-specialists have championed the Artaudian Fassbinder and dismissed a Brechtian influence."[13] Barnett shows that Brecht had a definite influence on Fassbinder's work in the theatre (in particular, the use of Verfremdung and the materialist view of characters as dynamic products of social relationships and situations) and that clear links exist between Fassbinder's work on both stage and screen. In an earlier article "Distancing Techniques in Fassbinders Effi Briest,[14]" I analysed in detail the influence of Brecht, especially the idea of Verfremdung (alienation or estrangement), on Fassbinder's style. In another recent article, I examined the relative influence of Brecht and Sirk on Fassbinder's style, with specific reference to Die bitteren Tränen der Petra von Kant (1972).[15] In this article, I want to concentrate instead on Brecht's influence on Fassbinder's content, especially Brecht's view of social conditioning.

As a Marxist materialist, Brecht does not see human behaviour as independent of social conditions. Instead, a dialectical inter-relationship exists -- social conditions affect human behaviour but man is changeable and can change these conditions.[16]  In Der gute Mensch von Sezuan (1938-40), Shen Te cannot be good in a corrupt society but has to change into the ruthless Shui Ta just in order to survive.[17] Fassbinder goes half-way down the same road as Brecht. He understands the commodification of human values in capitalist society and that people are not discrete free individuals independent of social conditions. Barnett says of Fassbinder's adaptation Zum Beispiel Ingolstadt (1968) of Marieluise Fleissers Pioniere in Ingolstadt
Fassbinder enacts the demolition of the sovereign individual, together with its psychology, in favour of social role and the change of persona as defined by its context. [...] The approach is dialectical and refuses to treat the individual as anything but an ensemble of its social relations.[18] 
The main difference between Brecht and Fassbinder is that Brecht, as a positive materialist, goes further than Fassbinder, believing idealistically[19] that man can change unjust social conditions for the better and that this needs to be portrayed.[20] However, Fassbinder, a negative materialist, lacks Brecht's optimism.[21] Although he understands the importance of social context, he does not believe that, given the state of West German society, change for the better is possible and his films tend to end pessimistically with failure and/or death. Fassbinder's Effi Briest has the potential to make a difference, she has a few moments of insight and anger, but, in the end, she proves a failure and disappointment because, by forgiving Innstetten, she is merely accepting and reinforcing the repressive, sterile society which has destroyed her.

From 1978-82, Fassbinder made three films about the early history of the Federal Republic of Germany which have become known as Die BRD-Trilogie: Die Ehe der Maria Braun (1978), Lola (1981) and Die Sehnsucht der Veronika Voss (1982). Maria Braun covers 1945-54, Lola concludes in 1958 and Veronika Voss takes place in 1955. He uses female protagonists because he finds their conflicts with society particularly stimulating and thinks they show more clearly how society works.[22] Fassbinder labelled Veronika Voss BRD 2 and Lola BRD 3 which is in line with the historical chronology. However, some critics prefer the order in which the films were actually made and it seems more aesthetically satisfying to have Lola at the centre of the trilogy as a positive counterpoint to the pessimism of the other two films. Also, finishing with Veronika Voss fits in better with the overall despondent mood of Fassbinder's oeuvre. James Roy Macbean argues that placing Lola second allows a truer appreciation of Fassbinder's artistic development and the suicide of the drug addict Veronika Voss coincides better with Fassbinder's own life story and his  unexpected early death from an overdose of sleeping pills and cocaine: "Not only does this order enable them [the viewers] to 'respect' the chronology of Fassbinder's creative output [...] But also, by allowing Veronika Voss to round out the historical trilogy (instead of Lola), this inverted order invites viewers to associate the trajectory of the historical trilogy with the tragic trajectory of Fassbinder's own life."

Maria Braun was only the second international commercial success in Germany's film history (after the 1930 universal success of Sternberg's Der blaue Engel with Marlene Dietrich). It spans ten years from the last days of the Second World War to 1954 when the West German football team beat Hungary to win the World Cup and re-establish West German national identity. Marias is a rags to riches tale -- in order to survive after the war she abandons traditional female values of morality and chastity, selling herself to the Americans (symbolising the commodification of human relationships); her later business success mirrors the Wirtschaftswunder. Tragically, despite her fantastic success, she remains just a commodity. She has been traded[24] without her knowledge by the two men in her life. Her husband Hermann and boss Oswald had agreed a pact that allowed Oswald to possess Maria provided that Hermann stayed away until Oswald's death when Hermann and Maria would be left Oswalds estate in his will. Fassbinder's ending is deliberately ambiguous. Does Maria, unfulfilled and disillusioned, commit suicide after finding out about the pact on Oswald's death or is the explosion merely an accident? This relatively open ending allows the viewers some scope to make up their own minds. Maria's death symbolises the emptiness and worthlessness of post-war German materialism. Money and wealth cannot buy happiness!

Although Veronika Voss (above) won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival in 1982 and is much admired by some critics[25] (especially for its sharp, high contrast black and white photography), I still find it the least satisfying of the three films. Veronika, unlike Maria Braun and Lola, is a tragic failure from the start, a relic from the Nazi past who is out of place in the booming 1950s. She is based on Sybille Schmitz, a former Nazi film star, who, forgotten after 1945, became a drug addict and committed suicide in mysterious circumstances in 1955. Fassbinder offers a bleak picture of a corrupt West Germany where those, who, unlike Maria and Lola, do not seek material success, are left with no alternative but drugs and suicide.

Originally, Fassbinder intended Lola as a remake of Der blaue Engel set in the Adenauer period but, as Vincent Canby remarks, "the similarities between the two films are nothing if not superficial."[26] Once more, Brecht's influence on Fassbinder's style cannot be ignored.[27] Lola has a loose episodic structure. Indeed, epic theatre lends itself to a dialectical approach and, like Brecht, Fassbinder enjoys playing opposing scenes off against each other. He does not present smooth flowing action but, instead, abrupt changes have a jarring effect on the viewer. Fassbinder makes great use of contrast and particularly likes to juxtapose the brothel scenes (garish candyfloss colours/ "Technicolor on acid"[28]) with more normal scenes from everyday life (normal light/normal colours). Fassbinder uses colour symbolism to create artificiality and distance -- von Bohm's female admirers tend to wear similar colours (his secretary, red and purple; Lola's mother lavender and Lola, red, the colour of blood and passion). When von Bohm is sitting with Lola in her red sports car, Fassbinder conjures up a wonderfully stylised scene as the screen is split between von Bohm on one side bathed in a blue filter and Lola on the other side with a pinkish hue.[29] The union of von Bohm and Lola is later symbolised by the blue and red balls floating together harmoniously in Schukert's swimming pool! This juxtaposition of garish scenes with more normal scenes creates an artificial, stylised overall effect although, on the whole, Lola is not as stilted, posed or mannered as the earlier Effi Briest with its stifling rigidity. 

Framing techniques create further distance. The Lola story is framed by two black and white Adenauer photos which provide a historical context. Various framing devices (door frames, window panes, curtains, mirrors, arches, columns, etc.) prevent a clear view of the action and close up what we see on the screen. These devices create a barrier between the viewer and the action, thus preventing identification. Peculiar to Lola is a layer of raucous vulgar humour (associated with the brothel and the wealthy plebeian Schukert who is played with great gusto by Mario Adorf).


The abundance of animal imagery also adds to the earthiness. Von Bohm is described as a sly old fox; Schukert's aristocratic wife is a cow; the leading citizens are referred to as crows; Schukert is a vulture, not a noble Adler (eagle) but a Raubtier (predator), although he does progress from a Schwein (swine) to eine ssse Sau (a sweet sow) because of his generosity at the end of the film. The characters are mainly representative types: the banker, the corrupt entrepreneur, the journalist, the police chief, the building commissioner, the whore. Fassbinder creates one highly effective scene full of Brechtian power symbolism. When Schukert visits the mayor, the mayor starts off sitting at his desk with a backdrop of a new, modern skyscraper city. Then, as the mayor fetches drinks, Schukert ends up sitting in the mayor's chair while the mayor takes the visitor's seat. Not knowing how to deal with von Bohm's threat to cancel the Lindenhof project, the mayor asks Schukert, who actually controls the town, what he should do. With delicious humour, Schukert, in the mayor's seat, responds: "Bin ich der Bürgermeister oder du?"[30] Dramatic irony is used frequently to create distance -- the audience knows the truth about Lola when she is pretending to be demure and intellectual with von Bohm and we can smile quietly to ourselves when Lola's mother tries to tease out the identity of von Bohm's new lady friend.

As for the content, Brecht demands that the emphasis should be placed on the social relations between human beings[31] and Fassbinder's economic underpinning of his characters behaviour is right at the Technicolor heart of this film. Schukert calls Lola his Privathure (private whore); as a prostitute in the brothel, she is a commodity available to the highest bidder and at various times Esslin, Schukert and von Bohm all try to buy her. She is also a singer and a single parent with an illegitimate daughter who is supported by Schukert, the daughter's father. The small town is totally corrupt.[32] The elite, led by the building entrepreneur Schukert, profit from property speculation and expect to make a fortune when planning approval is granted for the imminent Lindenhof building project. They put on an outward show of respectability while hypocritically frequenting the town's brothel. Von Bohm, the new building commissioner, does not fit into the town because he is different in that he is not corrupt. An aristocratic, old-school charmer, he intends to clean up the town, to expose how the rich are robbing the poor and to destroy Schukert.

Lola is a tough born survivor in the spirit of Brecht's Mutter Courage, although a lot shrewder. She perceives the crisis created by von Bohm's honesty as an opportunity to win what she wants. When Esslin asks her if she wants to live in a rotten corrupt society, she replies that she doesn't mind the corruption, but what really riles her is that the elite won't let her have a share. Lola is able to bridge the gulf between her two diametrically opposed admirers, the unscrupulous Schukert and the upright von Bohm. On realising that von Bohm has actually fallen in love with her, she manipulates this love to achieve social acceptance. Agreeing to marry Lola, von Bohm abandons his moral principles and sells out, changing his mind in order to allow the Lindenhof project to go ahead. Lola accomplishes what she has always wanted -- bourgeois respectability and social acceptance. The town's elite appreciate that they can continue with their greedy speculation and profiteering because Lola is able to control von Bohm's moral impulses.

Love proves something good for Lola -- not her love but von Bohm's love which permits her to capture[33] him in marriage (really an astute business transaction): Lola is perhaps more directly concerned with the cost and effects of materialism than the others in the trilogy. The presence of commodities such as TVs and radios permeate the film, and the construction of a new building [...] is central to the plot. "Lola herself is one of these very commodities (has any other woman in Fassbinder's oeuvre been so wilfully objectified?), and one that's desperate to become socially acceptable to the point where she denigrates the institution of marriage to mere deal-breaking."[34] Love in the film has degenerated to a means of social control which allows corruption to thrive -- Fassbinder calls love cynically the best, the most effective means of social coercion.[35] For von Bohm, love means betraying his high-minded principles and joining the universal corruption. However, it is not a completely negative force. His marriage has made him happy and Maree Macmillan argues that Lola offers him liberation from a hitherto constricted life: "The female protagonists of a second group of texts, Mann's Professor Unrat, Sternberg's Blue Angel and Fassbinder's Lola, generally regarded as sirens who lure respectable men to their destruction, can be viewed as agents or catalysts of transformation, offering the possibility of a more fully lived existence which promises good as well as ill".[36] Lola offers von Bohm a chance of personal and sexual fulfilment. As well, he is not publicly destroyed like Professor Unrat. Nevertheless, he is unknowingly humiliated and betrayed at the end of the film by Lola, who ends up with the best of both worlds. After the ceremony, she cuckolds von Bohm with Schukert, intending to become his expensive mistress. Schukert is another victor. His power in the town has not been diminished, he has generously traded Lola in marriage to von Bohm in order to maintain his profits but he will still be able to enjoy her whenever he wants and he has magnanimously handed over the brothel in trust to his daughter Marie.

Thomas Elsaesser describes Lola as a "surprisingly optimistic" film[37] and it is the only positive work in the trilogy. Lola does not allow herself to be weakened by the feelings which destroy Maria and is the only one of the three women to survive. In the course of the film, she has achieved upward social mobility from whore and single mum to respectable bourgeois housewife. She has proved that she can easily match the men in her life. Through her determination and cunning, a corrupt society has been allowed to continue -- and she now gets a share!

As we have seen, Fassbinder has a similar socio-economic starting point to Brecht with his understanding of how social conditions influence human behaviour. But, although they both start with a materialist approach, they end up with totally different outcomes. Brecht remains optimistic, believes in social progress and urges us to change the world. Fassbinder, on the other hand, wallows in melancholy and misery. He can see what is wrong with the world but cannot offer any solutions.[38] Frequently his films end in failure, despair, suicide and death...

Perhaps, if we want to be fair to their materialist approach, we should apply the same method to Brecht and Fassbinder and look for the reason for this divergency in their respective social contexts. Brecht experienced two major successful revolutions (in Russia and China) and witnessed the defeat of fascism in Italy and Germany. Therefore, he has good reasons to be cheerful and to believe in social progress. Fassbinder, however, was not happy with life in the BRD in the 1960s -- the Grand Coalition, the Emergency Laws, the shooting of student protesters. His 1969 theatre production of Preparadise Sorry Now was a gloomy reaction to the Living Theatre's utopianism: "The pessimism, which is unremitting, is contextualised [...]; Fassbinder takes a dialectical view of violence; its sustained presentation reflects the unlikely prospect of a change in the social or political system in the FRG, not humanity's inability to live more peacefully. [...] Preparadise Sorry Now, an English neologism, directly takes issue with the more utopian hopes of the Living Theatres Paradise Now production, which suggested that paradise was indeed achievable in the present. Fassbinder is keen to dismiss this reading, but not on the grounds of it never being realizable. Rather he sees the current climate, as defined by the dominance of dehumanizing social structures, as irreconcilable with universal happiness."[39]

Unfortunately, the 1970s did not get any better. Deutschland im Herbst (1978) was a collaborative attempt by various writers and directors (including Fassbinder, Heinrich Böll, Alexander Kluge, Volker Schlöndorff) to come to terms with urban terrorism, increased police militancy and a resurgence of fascist tendencies in the BRD. It deals with a set of events in autumn 1977 -- the Red Army Faction kidnap and murder of the industrialist Hanns-Martin Schleyer, a former SS officer, and the failed hijacking of a Lufthansa plane. Shortly after the storming of the hijacked plane in Mogadishu, three RAF leaders (Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin and Jan-Carl Raspe) were found dead in their cells in the maximum security prison Stammheim, having committed suicide. Before making Die BRD-Trilogie, Fassbinder filmed his segment of Deutschland im Herbst. His contribution is very personalised and depicts bitter arguments with his homosexual lover, the actor Armin Meier. Amidst the booze and drugs, an atmosphere of misery is evoked. Although he found direct action stupid[40] and was sceptical of armed violence, Fassbinder was still devastated by the suicides of the three RAF leaders which did not seem plausible in such a high security prison. Just as Franz Biberkopf in Berlin Alexanderplatz suffers a succession of cruel hammer blows, Fassbinder's own life took another tragic turn. In May 1978, Armin Meier's body was found in Fassbinder's apartment, Armin having committed suicide when he learnt that his lover intended to terminate the relationship.[41]

Perhaps, in the context of Fassbinder's sad personal life, amidst all the alcohol and drugs and in an increasingly repressive West Germany, it is understandable why he was unable to attain Brecht's clarity and optimism. Although a strong woman, Lola is not a revolutionary.[42] She works within the prevailing power structures, she does not challenge the system (von Bohn wants to challenge the system but gives in) and only seeks acceptance within the system, however corrupt it may be. Still, Lola is as positive as Fassbinder gets and provides a few moments of respite from the despondency and despair. However, more typical of the trilogy, of Fassbinder's oeuvre in general and his own life is Veronika Voss's bleak tragedy.

[1]Two of Fassbinder's gay lovers committed suicide: El Hedi Ben Salem (c1935-82), who played Ali in Angst essen Seele auf (1974) and the actor Armin Meier (1943-78). Sexual themes (gay, lesbian, transsexual, etc.) abound in Fassbinders films.
[2]Ingrid Caven, the actress and singer, now lives with the French author Jean-Jacques Schuhl who won the Prix Goncourt 2000 for his novel about her, entitled Ingrid Caven.
[3]See "Fassbinder's legacy @ 25" at Lorenz has produced different versions of the wedding. She could not produce a marriage certificate either because it was thrown out of a car window or because she and Fassbinder did not have the blood test which was required to legitimise the marriage in Florida.
[4]Katja Nicodemus, "No morals without style," interview with Ingrid Caven, 31/05/2007 at Original interview in German on 24/5/07 at
[5]See Nicodemus interview above.
[6]"Battle over RWF's legacy," 31/05/07 at
[7]For example, she found the Effi Briest which Fassbinder wanted her to play too constricting and did not work with him again for the next five years. See Rosalind Hodgkiss, "The bitter tears of Fassbinders women" at
[8]Quoted by Gary Morris, "Dark Angel. Notes on Fassbinder." at
[9]See Hodgkiss, above.
[10]David Barnett, Rainer Werner Fassbinder and the German Theatre (Cambridge: University Press, 2005), 215.
[11]See Hodgkiss, above.
[12]Antonin Artaud (1896-1948), who is associated with the Theatre of Cruelty, influenced Peter Brook's famous Marat-Sade production and The Living Theatre, an American experimental company which toured Europe in the 1960s.
[13]Barnett, 6.
[14]This article was published by Neophilologus online, DOI 10.1007/s11061-009-9187-3, and in the printed magazine, 94 (2010), 499-508.
[15]"Sirk or Brecht? Or Both? Determining the Guiding Influence in Fassbinders The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant" (May 2011) at
[16]See Bertolt Brecht, Schriften zum Theater (Frankfurt/M.: Suhrkamp, 1969), 86.
[17]Bertolt Brecht, Der gute Mensch von Sezuan (Frankfurt/M.: Suhrkamp, 1970). Cf. Brecht's 1928 Die Dreigroschenoper (Frankfurt/M.: Suhrkamp, 1972) where we have the similar themes that it is impossible to be good because of dire social conditions (44) and food comes before morals (69).
[18]Barnett, 41-42. It is interesting to note that this phrase which Barnett applies to Fassbinder was actually used by Brecht (das Ensemble aller gesellschaftlichen Verhältnisse), Schriften zum Theater, 35, and goes all the way back to Karl Marx in 1845 (Thesen über Feuerbach).
[19]Ironically, despite Marxist materialisms advocacy of concrete reality and its rejection of Hegelian idealism, Brecht's optimistic belief that man can change the world for the better now has an idealistic/utopian ring to it in our present political climate. Fassbinder's cynicism and pessimism seem more realistic.
[20]See Brecht, Schriften zum Theater, 242.
[21]In his attack on timeless bourgeois/humanist values in Goethe's Iphigenie (Klassikerzertrmmerung), Fassbinders Iphigenie auf Tauris von Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1968) rejects Goethe's reconciled ending with its triumph of enlightened humanism over the barbarian King of Tauris, Thoas. Fassbinder's adaptation ends pessimistically because he did not believe that the magnanimity of the mighty was possible in the context of the Grand Coalition: In 1968 the mighty were anything but magnanimous to the APO and its sympathizers. The Berlin Police Chief Duensing had authorized the use of extreme force in dealing with demonstrators at the anti-Shah rally in June 1967 [...] The courts had acquitted Karl-Heinz Kurras, the police officer who had shot dead the student protester Benno Ohnesorg at the same demonstration. The Grand Coalition had passed its Emergency Laws [...] The magnanimity of which Goethe wrote was still in short supply. [...] [Goethe's] reconciled ending is not permitted in Fassbinder's version, and Arkas, Orest, his lover Pylades and Iphigenie simultaneously deliver despondent monologues before the lights go out., Barnett, 86-88.
[22]See the Fassbinder quote in Sabine Pott, Film als Geschichtsschreibung bei Rainer Werner Fassbinder (Bern: Peter Lang, 2002), 21.
[23]James Roy Macbean, quoted in Pott, 164. Pott, in her detailed study of the trilogy, deals with Lola as the second film and J. Clark sees the garishly-bright colors in Lola giving way to drug-induced stupors in Veronika Voss [as] another reason for considering the films in the order they were made and not with Fassbinder's BRD numberings, Fassbinder's BRD Trilogy at
[24]For Pott, Maria is a Tauschobjekt (158), an object of exchange, and all her relationships are economically determined (34). Marias Liebesbeziehung (love affair) has been reduced to an Austauschbeziehung (33), an exchange relationship.
[25]I can say that Veronika Voss is my favorite, Brian Burke, review of   Fassbinder's BRD Trilogy: Criterion Collection at; J. Clark says that Veronika Voss works brilliantly on every level and considers it one of Fassbinder's most inspired and completely successful creations, see review mentioned above.
[26]Vincent Canby, movie review of Lola (1981), New York Times, 4 Aug. 1982 at
[27]H-B. Moeller complains that film scholars have neglected Brecht's influence on Fassbinder: In his trilogy about Germany, the late Rainer Werner Fassbinder remained close to the Brechtian model. However, critical reviews have largely tended to ignore the trilogy's literary and Brechtian aspects; AngloAmerican critics in particular saw Andy Warhol and Douglas Sirk in Fassbinder. [...] In particular, Fassbinder's trilogy invites a reexamination so as to illuminate the Brechtian attack which Fassbinder waged against the West German success story, concluding In their fascination with Fassbinder's reverence for exiled director Douglas Sirk and his Hollywood work, film scholars tend to overlook or underestimate the Brechtian elements in Fassbinder's work, The Marriage of Maria Braun. Veronika Voss. Lola Fassbinder's use of Brechtian aesthetics, in Jump Cut, no. 35, April 1990, 102-107 at
[28]J. Clark, see review above.
[29]For Pott, the different colours symbolise the distance between the two characters. See 128.
[30] Am I the mayor or you?
[31]See Brecht, Schriften zum Theater, 89. Pott says that Fassbinder sees the individual as determined by social and political conditions, 20.
[32]Fassbinder called the period 1956-1960 the most amoral time ever in Germanys history. See Pott, 102.
[33]Fassbinder says that directors tend to deal with just one theme and keep making the same film. He is concerned about how feelings can be exploited, whether the state exploits feelings of patriotism or one person in a relationship destroys the other. See Pott, 102.
[34]Anonymous reviewer, Lola (Fassbinder, 1981) at
[35]See Pott, 178.
[36]Maree Macmillan, Screaming through the century: The female voice as cathartic/transformative force, from Berg's Lulu to Tykwer's Run Lola Run at
[37]Thomas Elsaesser, Fassbinder's Germany (Amsterdam: University Press, 1996), 127. The effectiveness and enjoyment of the film are enhanced by Barbara Sukowa's stunning performance as Lola for which she was named Best Actress at the Berlin Film Festival. Previously, she had won a German best young actress award for her performance as Mieze in Fassbinder's magnificent TV series Berlin Alexanderplatz (1980).
[38]Fassbinder notes his affinity with Fontane in this respect. He likes the fact that Fontane recognises what is wrong with his society but does not offer any remedies. Fassbinder dislikes those books and films which are too ready to offer neat solutions.  See Pott, 155.
[39]Barnett, 106.
[40]Elsaesser, 26. Die Dritte Generation (1979) shows Fassbinder's distrust of political activism. He portrays a third generation of terrorists in a police state -- after the first generation of idealists and the second generation of pragmatists, the third generation are just opportunists. On the poster for this film, Fassbinder wrote: Ich werfe keine Bomben, ich mache Filme (I dont throw bombs, I make films). Fassbinder had worked in the Munich action-theater with the RAF member Horst Söhnlein whose wife Ursula Strätz appeared in his theatre productions and films (she played Roswitha in Effi Briest).
[41]Elsaesser, 290.
[42]The most radical critic of the town's hypocrisy is the ubiquitous Esslin, von Bohm's clerk and a drummer in the brothel (right from the start he has his feet in both camps). He calls himself not a revolutionary, but a humanist and believes in Bakunin's view that the earth should belong to everyone. However, he sells out like von Bohm and betrays his high-minded principles by finally accepting a cigar and then a job from Schukert. Everyone has a price!

Peter K. Tyson has a PHD from the University of Alberta and has published books on German and English literature. His articles on German drama and cinema have appeared in international journals all over the world.

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c. 2012 - Peter K. Tyson

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