Eclipse Series 39: Early Fassbinder

Discuss DVDs released in the Eclipse and Essential Art House lines and the films on them.
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swo17
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Eclipse Series 39: Early Fassbinder

#1 Post by swo17 » Wed May 15, 2013 4:31 pm

Eclipse Series 39: Early Fassbinder

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From the very beginning of his incandescent career, the New German Cinema enfant terrible Rainer Werner Fassbinder refused to play by the rules. His politically charged, experimental first films, made at an astonishingly rapid rate between 1969 and 1971, were influenced by the work of the antiteater, an avant-garde stage troupe that he had helped found in Munich. Collected here are five of those fascinating and confrontational works; whether a self-conscious meditation on American crime movies, a scathing indictment of xenophobia in contemporary Germany, or an off-the-wall look at the dysfunctional relationships on film sets, each is a startling glimpse into the mind of a twentysomething man who would become one of cinema's most madly prolific artists.

Love Is Colder Than Death

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For his debut, Fassbinder fashioned an acerbic, unorthodox crime drama about a love triangle involving the small-time pimp Franz (Fassbinder), his gangster friend Bruno (Ulli Lommel), and Franz's prostitute girlfriend, Joanna (future Fassbinder mainstay Hanna Schygulla).

Katzelmacher

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Fassbinder's second film dramatizes the intolerance of a circle of financially and sexually frustrated friends when an immigrant laborer (Fassbinder) moves to their Munich neighborhood.

Gods of the Plague

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Harry Baer, a Fassbinder discovery, plays a newly released ex-convict who slowly but surely makes his way back into the Munich criminal underworld.

The American Soldier

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Fassbinder's experimental noir is a subversive, self-reflexive gangster movie full of unexpected asides and stylistic flourishes, and featuring an audaciously bonkers final shot and memorable turns from many of the director's rotating gallery of players.

Beware of a Holy Whore

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In Fassbinder's brazen depiction of the alternating currents of lethargy and mayhem inherent in moviemaking, a film crew deals with an aloof star (Eddie Constantine), an abusive director (Lou Castel), and a financially troubled production.

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domino harvey
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Re: Eclipse Series 39: Early Fassbinder

#2 Post by domino harvey » Wed May 15, 2013 4:33 pm

All of these are in the first Arrow Fassbinder box along with five other movies for twenty pounds, if you're region-free

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Tommaso
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Re: Eclipse Series 39: Early Fassbinder

#3 Post by Tommaso » Wed May 15, 2013 5:04 pm

The most pointless Eclipse ever, then?

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TMDaines
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Re: Eclipse Series 39: Early Fassbinder

#4 Post by TMDaines » Wed May 15, 2013 5:05 pm

Tommaso wrote:The most pointless Eclipse ever, then?
Don't, you'll upset mfunk. Ssshhh. Never suggest labels don't exist in a vacuum.
domino harvey wrote:All of these are in the first Arrow Fassbinder box along with five other movies for twenty pounds, if you're region-free
Hell, if you've paid £20 then you've perhaps paid too much! These have dropped down to £15 on more than one occassion.

And, unless I'm being stupid, it's "only" four other films.

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Donald Brown
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Re: Eclipse Series 39: Early Fassbinder

#5 Post by Donald Brown » Wed May 15, 2013 5:13 pm

If the transfers are better than the Arrow set, it'll be worth it.

It's a good way to introduce more Fassbinder to those who are region-locked or just don't pay attention to non-US releases.

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Matt
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Re: Eclipse Series 39: Early Fassbinder

#6 Post by Matt » Wed May 15, 2013 5:37 pm

The transfers are probably identical to what Wellspring and Arrow were given (which is why this is an Eclipse set), but the encodes might be a slight improvement.

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SpiderBaby
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Re: Eclipse Series 39: Early Fassbinder

#7 Post by SpiderBaby » Wed May 15, 2013 5:49 pm

Please don't let this be a sign that the others are going to Eclipse as well. I can't imagine Bitter Tears, Satan's Brew, or Effi Briest not getting blu-ray releases.

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movielocke
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Re: Eclipse Series 39: Early Fassbinder

#8 Post by movielocke » Wed May 15, 2013 5:52 pm

so are the later four films 16mm productions, is that why they're 1.33:1? I've seen Beware a Holy Whore theatrically last time fassbinder came through town, and I'm pretty sure it was widescreen.

Props55
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Re: Eclipse Series 39: Early Fassbinder

#9 Post by Props55 » Wed May 15, 2013 5:58 pm

I'd been hovering over the Arrows (and the Second Sights) for ages before stumbling over the last three titles on Hulu+. Despite what I'd heard about the technical quality of these features (never seen anything earlier than FEAR EATS THE SOUL previously) I was more than impressed by the films and their (very clean) tranfers. GODS starts off with a kick-ass credits sequence and how about that endless helicopter shot? Not surprised to see them on Eclipse but with no extras I'm content with streaming for now.

*Just for the record Hulu+ also stream: MOTHER KUSTERS, BITTER TEARS, CHINESE ROULETTE, FEAR OF FEAR, EFFI BRIEST and SATAN'S BREW as well as all previous Criterion releases with the exception of BERLIN.

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Matt
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Re: Eclipse Series 39: Early Fassbinder

#10 Post by Matt » Wed May 15, 2013 6:01 pm

movielocke wrote:so are the later four films 16mm productions, is that why they're 1.33:1? I've seen Beware a Holy Whore theatrically last time fassbinder came through town, and I'm pretty sure it was widescreen.
The Fassbinder Foundation says it's 35mm (as are the other films in the set), but I don't recall ever seeing it (or any of these other early films) in anything but 1.33:1, and that's the aspect ratio of every existing DVD.

Props55
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Re: Eclipse Series 39: Early Fassbinder

#11 Post by Props55 » Wed May 15, 2013 6:14 pm

Every new title I mentioned above were in 1.33 (and so I believe was ALI) and they also had a strange "adult content" warning which I'd never before seen on even the most recent Criterions on Hulu+. I saw them in chronological order and expected to see them eventually go 1.66 or 1.78 but it never happened even with the upgrade to 35mm. Nothing looked serously amiss as regards framing (i.e. no excessive headroom) and it must be remembered that much of the Fassbinder canon was at least partly financed by German TV so make of this what you will. They also had a credit/copyright panel signifying ownership by the Fassbinder Foundation.

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manicsounds
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Re: Eclipse Series 39: Early Fassbinder

#12 Post by manicsounds » Wed May 15, 2013 7:05 pm

Tommaso wrote:The most pointless Eclipse ever, then?
Not necessarily. The Kaurismaki Eclipse sets were pretty much identical to the UK boxsets as well. But are these titles making their US DVD debut? Or did someone like Facets or Kino release these previously?

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knives
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Re: Eclipse Series 39: Early Fassbinder

#13 Post by knives » Wed May 15, 2013 7:09 pm

Wellspring released (most of?) them previously, but they're long out of print. It's good to have an in print edition of these films out there for other to buy/ rent even if might not be of particular use to me. Given the quality of the restorations ect, I doubt the set could have easily gone blu so this works for me though I suppose in that case I would have preferred them as extras if I were to play devil's advocate against myself.

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What A Disgrace
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Re: Eclipse Series 39: Early Fassbinder

#14 Post by What A Disgrace » Wed May 15, 2013 8:10 pm

Even if I already owned all five films from Wellspring, this Eclipse is a heck of a lot more exciting of a release than the Masaki Kobayashi one.

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The Fanciful Norwegian
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Re: Eclipse Series 39: Early Fassbinder

#15 Post by The Fanciful Norwegian » Wed May 15, 2013 10:25 pm

Some of the Wellspring Fassbinders were PAL-to-NTSC jobs, though I don't know if that applied to any of these titles. At the very least it's a safe assumption Criterion won't go that route.

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vsski
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Re: Eclipse Series 39: Early Fassbinder

#16 Post by vsski » Thu May 16, 2013 12:44 am

What A Disgrace wrote:Even if I already owned all five films from Wellspring, this Eclipse is a heck of a lot more exciting of a release than the Masaki Kobayashi one.
I actually own all of the old Wellspring Fassbinder titles and while I'm happy that those who don't yet have them finally have access again in Region 1, for me this is indeed the most pointless Eclipse set I can think of - and not because I already own them. If the transfers are all huge improvements over the Wellsprings, I may rethink this statement, but I doubt it, as at least the first 3 on Wellspring came from restored prints from the RWF Foundation and there was a trailer for Beware of a Holy Whore (although ironically not on the same disc as the film), and if they are indeed so much better, why dump them into the Eclipse line.

The reason why I think it's pointless is that all of these titles have been published in Region 1, are readily available in Region 2 (although Criterion doesn't take that into account) and completely go counter the old Eclipse vision of presenting titles that haven't seen the light of day in Region 1. While I know there was one title in the Downey set that also violated that rule, here it is the entire set. Given all the titles Criterion sits on that never have been released on disc in Region 1, I find the Kobayashi set more exciting even if they aren't my favorite films, because they haven't been released on disc in Region 1 before.

I really hope this doesn't set the precedent of dumping films that can't be released on BD into Eclipse, since the mainline now can only be for those films were elements are strong enough for a BD release.

I love the Eclipse series because it introduces me to films I can otherwise not get on disc or seldom in English friendly versions.

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tenia
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Re: Eclipse Series 39: Early Fassbinder

#17 Post by tenia » Thu May 16, 2013 1:29 am

vsski wrote:Given all the titles Criterion sits on that never have been released on disc in Region 1, I find the Kobayashi set more exciting even if they aren't my favorite films, because they haven't been released on disc in Region 1 before.
It's also the case for me (even if it is again a case of "it's already available elsewhere !") : the 2 Arrow boxsets are costing £50 on Amazon, and that's for 17 movies.
Cremildo wrote:Some people just seem to cherish more a label (they're collectors) than the movie (not really cinephiles).
I'd love to be explained how it needs to be separated from one another. Probably half of what I'm buying is because it's released under a label I love (Carlotta, Wild Side, Gaumont, Criterion, Arrow, BFI and MoC). Why ? Simply because there's so many movies I've never seen, and they release them in usually extensive package, on BD, with complementary extra features to put a context around these movies. And most of the time, these movies are either important classics or movies I know and was waiting for or movies that ends up being very good.

Does that mean I care more about their labels than the movies themselves ? Or is it simply because it's the easiest way for me to be sure the movies I buy will have great releases and that I will enjoy most of them ?

I'm always irritated to see this opposition because it's also just a question of curiosity : these labels make a wonderful pool for curious people like me to pick in and I'm eager to discover movies I've never seen before thanks to them : Dreyer, Kurosawa, Truffaut, Malle, Godard, Fellini, and all. If I've been able to watch them in such good conditions, it is thanks to them (and I'm not even speaking of the things they simple made available in English-friendly releases).

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knives
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Re: Eclipse Series 39: Early Fassbinder

#18 Post by knives » Thu May 16, 2013 1:41 am

I'm with Tenia on that part. What's the purpose of buying films instead of just watching them if not on some level collectorism (I should clarify right now that the majority of my purchases are for space so even if the other five features make it to blu I'd buy the arrow set). As Walter Benjamin would say long live the collector.

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repeat
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Re: Eclipse Series 39: Early Fassbinder

#19 Post by repeat » Thu May 16, 2013 1:52 am

What a waste of resources (unless they got these literally for free). It's getting more and more difficult to fathom the rationale behind releases like this - especially in this case, when the Eclipse branding guarantees the lack of any substantial extras. "Fassbinder on TV", now THAT would have been an Eclipse set worthy of Criterion (although I have no idea if those missing TV works are even available for anyone to put out)

UNLESS of course the transfers turn out to be major improvements over the Arrow set (which I'm currently waiting to receive after ordering it from Amazon.es for 20 euros), in which case I could fathom someone wanting to double-dip. But overall I don't understand who exactly they plan to be selling this to.

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MichaelB
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Re: Eclipse Series 39: Early Fassbinder

#20 Post by MichaelB » Thu May 16, 2013 2:27 am

repeat wrote:UNLESS of course the transfers turn out to be major improvements over the Arrow set (which I'm currently waiting to receive after ordering it from Amazon.es for 20 euros), in which case I could fathom someone wanting to double-dip. But overall I don't understand who exactly they plan to be selling this to.
Americans seem less inclined to import than Europeans, which may explain that. I've frequently encountered the mentality online (not here, obviously) that if something isn't for sale in the US, it isn't available at all. And when Second Run announced Ikarie XB-1, a Czech-based poster popped up to complain - but, realistically, how many of us import from the Czech Republic or would even know where to start?

As for the Fassbinder transfers, Arrow's were sourced directly from the Fassbinder Foundation, which will undoubtedly have supplied Criterion with the same masters. If I remember rightly, Arrow's looked fine, especially given the rough-and-ready originals.

(UPDATE: I've just had a quick peek at Arrow's Love is Colder than Death, which actually looks excellent rather than merely "fine" - a lovely pin-sharp picture from what is clearly a 35mm source. So I'd be surprised if the Foundation found it necessary to remaster it, making it a very safe bet that the Eclipse box will offer the same but in NTSC).

How rude!
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Re: Eclipse Series 39: Early Fassbinder

#21 Post by How rude! » Thu May 16, 2013 3:19 am

just had a quick peek at Arrow's Love is Colder than Death, which actually looks excellent rather than merely I've "fine
The two Arrow sets are essential, and in very good editions. Perhaps the Criterions will be tweaked, but, really, just get the Arrows' and enjoy. Why wait for a bare-bones set when you can get two mammoth sets with copious extras?

Should we expect the early Wim wenders' as a no-frills Eclipse set, also?

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feckless boy
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Re: Eclipse Series 39: Early Fassbinder

#22 Post by feckless boy » Thu May 16, 2013 3:46 am

Even if Criterion use the same Fassbinder Foundation masters they'll still do their own encodes, hopefully artifact-free and with strong bit-rates. Since the sources are 24fps the soundtracks will most likely run at the correct speed (not PAl sped up that is). All good things in my book.

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repeat
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Re: Eclipse Series 39: Early Fassbinder

#23 Post by repeat » Thu May 16, 2013 4:15 am

Absence of PAL speedup is indeed a selling point (and probably one reason behind some of said disinclination to import from Europe to US). I've accustomed myself to slowing down PAL discs as I watch most of my stuff on the Mac anyway, but I can certainly see why people would prefer a (properly-done) NTSC release.

Anyway I hope they'll be able to sell this set, if only to make some more Fassbinder releases feasible. I wonder if they're going to upgrade Berlin Alexanderplatz to Blu? There's a Japanese BD available already, but I guess one is bound to come out in Germany or US sooner or later. According to the Foundation, a restoration of Eight Hours Are Not A Day is also in the works for 2015 - hopefully that will find its way to disc as well...

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Peacock
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Re: Eclipse Series 39: Early Fassbinder

#24 Post by Peacock » Thu May 16, 2013 6:00 am

For the record the two Arrow Fassbinder sets are often £12.50 each, that's how much I got them for as have some of my friends at other points in time. Plus they contain his surviving early short films and lots of feature length documentaries and interviews on Fassbinder. Disappointing Eclipse.

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TMDaines
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Re: Eclipse Series 39: Early Fassbinder

#25 Post by TMDaines » Thu May 16, 2013 6:05 am

Yeah, as much as people should go for the Arrow sets, wait for a good price. They'll be below £15 at some point on Amazon UK/IT/ES.

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