914 Baal

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914 Baal

#1 Post by swo17 » Fri Dec 15, 2017 5:23 pm


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Volker Schlöndorff transported Bertolt Brecht's 1918 debut play to contemporary West Germany for this vicious experiment in adaptation, seldom seen for nearly half a century. Oozing with brutish charisma, Rainer Werner Fassbinder embodies the eponymous anarchist poet, who feels himself cast out from bourgeois society and sets off on a schnapps-soaked rampage. Hewing faithfully to Brecht's text, Schlöndorff juxtaposes the theatricality of the prose with bare-bones, handheld 16 mm camera work, which gives immediacy to this savage story of rebellion. Featuring a supporting cast of Fassbinder's troupe of theater actors as well as Margarethe von Trotta, Baal demonstrates the uncompromising nature of Schlöndorff's vision and forged a path for New German Cinema.


• New, restored 2K digital transfer, supervised by director Volker Schlöndorff, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
• Interviews from 1973 and 2015 with Schlöndorff
• New conversation between actor Ethan Hawke and playwright Jonathan Marc Sherman about the play and adaptation
• New interview with actor and filmmaker Margarethe von Trotta
• New interview with film historian Eric Rentschler
• New English subtitle translation
• PLUS: An essay by critic Dennis Lim

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Re: 914 Baal

#2 Post by beamish13 » Fri Dec 15, 2017 5:51 pm

More Schlondorff is always a great thing, but I do hope there are some Von Trotta solo titles down the pipeline.

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Re: 914 Baal

#3 Post by TMDaines » Fri Dec 15, 2017 8:40 pm

I’ve been half expecting Arrow to put this out in the UK, but given how long the European Blu-rays have been out now, it is looking less and less likely. I’ll be picking this one up.

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Re: 914 Baal

#4 Post by L.A. » Fri Dec 15, 2017 8:53 pm

Did the German BD have English subs?

EDIT: when I change Amazon.de from mobile to PC-site it now lists subtitles in English and French. :-k

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Re: 914 Baal

#5 Post by fdm » Sat Dec 16, 2017 5:20 am

Yes the German BD has English subs.

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Re: 914 Baal

#6 Post by furbicide » Sat Dec 16, 2017 6:34 am

Caught this at the Melbourne International Film Festival a few years ago. An exceptional, disturbing film; Fassbinder's performance is magnetic.

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Re: 914 Baal

#7 Post by Ribs » Fri Feb 23, 2018 2:09 pm

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Re: 914 Baal

#8 Post by knives » Wed Jun 06, 2018 6:51 pm

I'm a pretty big Schlöndorff skeptic, but this one proved to be easily the best of his works of those I've seen. The fusion of him and Fassbinder (though more likely given the time line Fassbinder stole and improved on the tactics here rather than being any actual influence on Schlöndorff) lends the film a dream like stiltedness which dissipates the social film potential other aspects of the aesthetic suggests. It's very easy to imagine Ken Loach playing this same sort of television theater (reminding me I still haven't watched Clarke's version) much more straight so that we get a sad look at the perils of drink in an unforgiving system. Instead the film plays very subjectively to the point where the reality of what we are seeing is in question and it becomes impossible to think of anyone other than Fassbinder. He seems to absorb each character, large and small, into himself. It makes this a story of suicide that can not be internalized thanks to a character weakness. That's a pretty cheeky undermining of a lot of the narratives of tortured genius that float around (though I suspect that goes back to the original play as that joke seems like something Brecht would like).

The 1.33 aspect ratio and the television fuzz that surrounds some scenes along with a handful of other effects likely were necessary products of the medium, but the film uses these potential limitations to its advantage. Like I said before it turns the realism of the other aesthetics (more on those in a sec) into a dream which is required to sustain the drama while reveling in the joke. The film sticks with handheld 16mm and naturalistic lighting. That plus a washed out look to the colours (probably another limitation of the medium) suggests a reality as is with the grimy, cheap design further suggesting a realism. Then sounds the ballads which make it clear this could never have succeeded on that route as much as an effort would be interesting. It's a film that knows it needs its unreality.

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Re: 914 Baal

#9 Post by teddyleevin » Thu Jun 07, 2018 1:31 am

Did podcast preview, review, and overview with David Blakeslee at CriterionReflections here. We watched this film, the Clarke version with Bowie, and also read the play. I think context is really the devil to the details for this one, so I definitely encourage you to dive deep into the source material. This film offers a great R.O.I. and I loved it.

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Re: 914 Baal

#10 Post by j99 » Wed Jun 13, 2018 12:26 pm

Try and watch the Clarke/Bowie version if you can, it’s tremendous, and one of Bowie’s best acting performances. Any idea if this Fassbinder version will get a UK release? It’s one I have wanted for a long time.

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