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Bildausschnitt: beleuchteter, festlicher, vertäfelter Filmvorführraum

Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Berlin Alexanderplatz (14 Teile)
(Berlin Alexanderplatz - Remastered)

  • Production Year 1980
  • color / Durationcolor / 869 min.
  • IN Number IN 1564

BERLIN ALEXANDERPLATZ: REMASTERED is the product of a collaboration between Bavaria Media und the Rainer Werner Fassbinder Foundation (RWFF), in cooperation with CinePostproduction and Arri. The project is sponsored by the German Federal Cultural Foundation, the Federal Film Board, the North Rhine-Westphalia Film Foundation, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, the Bavarian Film and Television Fund and German Films, and receives support from MoMA (the Museum of Modern Art) and RWFF.

Based on the novel of the same name by Alfred Döblin

Part 1: Die Strafe beginnt (81 min.)
Part 2: Wie soll man leben (59 min.)
Part 3: Ein Hammer auf den Kopf kann die Seele verletzen (59 min.)
Part 4: Eine Handvoll Menschen in der Tiefe der Stille (59 min.)
Part 5: Ein Schnitter mit der Gewalt vom lieben Gott (59 min.)
Part 6: Eine Liebe, das kostet immer viel (58 min.)
Part 7: Merke - einen Schwur kann man amputieren (58 min.)
Part 8: Die Sonne wärmt die Haut, die sich manchmal verbrennt (58 min.)
Part 9: Von den Ewigkeiten zwischen den vielen und den wenigen (58 min.)
Part 10: Einsamkeit reißt auch in Mauern Risse des Irrsinns (59 min.)
Part 11: Wissen ist Macht und Morgenstund hat Gold im Mund (59 min.)
Part 12: Die Schlange in der Seele der Schlange (59 min.)
Part 13: Das Äußere und das Innere und das Geheimnis der Angst vor der Angst (59 min.)
Epilogue: Rainer Werner Fassbinder: Mein Traum vom Franz Biberkopf (111 min.)

Rainer Werner Fassbinder tells the story in Alfred Döblin's novel "Berlin Alexanderplatz" as follows: "... The former transport worker Franz Biberkopf is released from prison where he served a four-year sentence for killing his former girl-friend Ida with an egg-beater. Ida had turned to prostitution to support him in Berlin in the economically troubled 20s. At first, the former jailbird has considerable problems with his virility, but overcomes these by almost raping his victim's sister, so that he is subsequently able to start a relationship with a Polish girl, Lina. Their relationship is such that they consider it to be love and Franz is persuaded to swear that he will lead an honest life from now on, so help ... or something like that. The financial conditions are catastrophic and all attempts to establish a sound foundation prove futile, be it tie clasps, erotic literature, the Völkischer Beobachter - but that creates trouble with former friends, communists, with whom he had once sympathized because he liked them. And so he sells shoelaces, they are always needed, together with Lina's uncle, but he eventually takes advantage of Franz's trust in him and starts blackmailing and threatening a widow whom Franz had once helped out in return for money. With his inshatterable faith in the goodness in people, Franz is so hurt that he withdraws from the world and other people and spends several weeks just drinking, eventually returning to life and the rest of mankind.

Then he meets a man called Reinhold, a small crook, but somehow strangely fascinating. In fact, he is so fascinated, that Franz finds himself doing Reinhold the strange service of getting rid of his women for him because Reinhold gets fed up with women very fast: it's almost a compulsion for him, first he has to have a woman, come what may, and then he has to get shot of her as fast as possible, but somehow he finds that rather difficult. Reinhold realizes that Franz is strangely fascinated by him and he considers Franz to be just a little bit thick, but he gets rid of the women for him. First one, then two, but the third time Franz refuses. Reinhold has got to learn to stick with one woman for longer because it's healthy and not sick and because Franz wants to help Reinhold and wants to help him properly. Franz Biberkopf fully understands that Reinhold cannot understand him and is vexed, that's just the way life is. By coincidence, Franz becomes involved in what he at first thinks is a regular fruit transport job, but then he suddenly realizes that it is in fact a burglary. He stands guard, wants to run away but cannot. After the burglary, Franz is sitting in the car with Reinhold when Reinhold suddenly has the feeling that someone is following them. Reinhold experiences a mixture of fear at being followed and anger over Franz. And then, almost in a trance, Reinhold suddenly pushes Franz out of the car. He is run over by their pursuer, it looks as if he is dead. But Franz Biberkopf is not dead, he merely loses his right arm. His former girl-friend Eva and her pimp help him to recover his strength and he returns to the city without his right arm. There, he meets a small crook for whom he fences stolen goods and becomes almost affluent.

Then Eva introduces him to a girl whom he calls Mieze. It turns out that she sells her body for him. Franz accepts this and the two are happy for a while. They love one another, but then Reinhold barges into the relationship, meets Mieze a few times and finally kills her. Franz is arrested for this murder and confined to a lunatic asylum where he is converted into a useful member of society in a prolonged period of "reverse catharsis". He is no longer anything special. He will probably become a National Socialist, so great is the destruction wreaked by his encounter with Reinhold."

The television film in thirteen parts plus epilogue also follows this version of the story: Franz Biberkopf is released from prison, wants to become an honest man, meets Lina (1). Meck offers him a job as a street vendor, he sells the "Völkischer Beobachter" (2). He is cheated by Lina's uncle (3), withdraws from the world, refuses to see anyone and just drinks (4). Then he meets the Pums gang and Reinhold, gets rid of Reinhold's women for him, first Fränze and then Cilly, but not Trude (5). Without really being aware of what he is doing, he stands guard while the Pums gang do a burglary, is pushed out of the car by Reinhold and loses an arm (6). His former girl-friend Eva and her pimp Herbert look after him (7) and he starts out on illegal deals. Eva introduces him to Mieze and the two fall in love, she turns to prostitution for him and he remains jealous (8). He meets Reinhold again and attends a political meeting attacking the parliamentary system (9). Mieze brings him to the verge of despair for she wants to go away for three days with a rich customer (10). Then he joins the Pums gang again, humiliates himself in front of Reinhold and is informed by Mieze that she loves someone else. He almost kills her (11), but she stays with him. However, she falls into the trap set for her by Reinhold who is also after her; he kills her (12). Franz Biberkopf laughs when he is told that she has been murdered: at least she did not leave him (13). He is in the madhouse, dreaming. Reinhold is sentenced to ten years in prison for manslaughter and Franz finds work as a deputy gatekeeper in factory (epilogue).

With its innumerable main and subsidiary plots, the story of the film BERLIN ALEXANDERPLATZ is as difficult to relate as the story of the novel. Nor is the story really so important to Fassbinder: it is just a "series of nasty little episodes each of which could provide the obscene popular press with the obscenest of front-page stories" (Fassbinder). What is important is the author's attitude towards his characters: he finds that even the shabbiest actions express a desire for tenderness, that violence is simply a different form of love, that people always hurt one another as soon as they pay any attention to one another. BERLIN ALEXANDERPLATZ has its place in Fassbinder's overall work; it is his provisional finale, the result a major, possibly excessive effort.

Fassbinder had been fascinated by the novel ever since his youth, had read it as a fourteen or fifteen-year-old and discovered its "real theme", namely "the encounter between the "hero" Franz Biberkopf and the other "hero" Reinhold, an encounter that was to decide the rest of these two men's lives". In Fassbinder's opinion, these two men love one another, but refuse to admit to themselves that "something mysterious brings them closer together than is normally considered decent between men". They are not homosexuals, for "there is nothing more and nothing less between them than a pure love that is not jeopardized by anything social". As social beings, however, they cannot accept this love. Döblin's novel helped Fassbinder come to terms with his own life, his fears and his "homosexual desires"; "it helped me to survive".

The novel is reflected in all of Fassbinder's films, from his very first feature film onwards. His films repeatedly deal with a young man called Franz (he is even called Franz Biberkopf in FAUSTRECHT DER FREIHEIT) who is betrayed, despairs over his love, is shot, poisons himself, is sentenced to gaol and can only narrowly escape once (LIEBE IST KÄLTER ALS DER TOD). He is played by Fassbinder himself or by his alter ego Harry Baer, his most important colleague in BERLIN ALEXANDERPLATZ; the part was only played by Günther Kaufmann in DRITTE GENERATION.

These attempts to portray Franz Biberkopf culminate in BERLIN ALEXANDERPLATZ and Günter Lamprecht (although he is really too old for the part). The early Franz was frequently a fairly one-dimensional person with pubertarian traits and a dash of self-pity (especially in FAUSTRECHT), but now Franz Biberkopf has become a mature man who already has a fair bit of life behind him while his predecessors were only just setting out in life (and in that respect Lamprecht was probably the right choice after all).

Franz Biberkopf is a man full of contradictions and opposites. We never really know how he will react and it is hard to know just how to deal with him; he is down-to-earth yet fickle, inspiring confidence but also aggressive, sure of himself and yet helpless, a small man experiencing a great passion. He is hardly able to put his feelings into words and has to express them through physical action instead; perhaps that is the reason why his relationship with Reinhold proves a failure. Despite his affection for women, a great deal of uncertainty remains, for they are after all strange beings, even Mieze, and their company offers only a momentary respite from loneliness.

Fassbinder has condensed the novel's multifaceted proliferating collage into the story of a few people and abridged it accordingly. The background, namely the big city in the late 20s, would have been impossible to reconstruct in any case and it is only present acoustically but not visually in the film, with advertising inserts, music, a symphony of sounds, a narrator's voice (Fassbinder himself). Here too, the film differs from the novel, for Fassbinder has intensified the emotions and largely dispensed with Döblin's irony. Fassbinder's characters are outcasts, beaten men and women who seek refuge in dark caves, in gloomy cramped flats, in cheap dives. They are prisoners in an incomprehensible world, prisoners of their own emotions which they cannot analyse.

The film is set almost entirely indoors. The underground station is the only part of the Alexanderplatz that is actually shown. The streets are also narrow and without light. The artificiality of the studio settings is by no means offputting, but intensifies the feeling of claustrophobia. Real sunlight in real streets would have transformed the film's realism into something documentary and thus destroyed it. The few outside shots in the film are also totally devoid of naturalism. There is something ghostly about the wood in which Reinhold kills Mieze; the trees and bars of light make escape impossible.

The film always returns to the people without the camera coming too close; it always leaves them every opportunity to develop their own style in a way that is used by almost all the cast and quite particularly by Günter Lamprecht (Biberkopf), Gottfried John (Reinhold) and Barbara Sukowa (Mieze). There is nothing exhibitionistic about their intense body language, for it is born of speechlessness, full of nuances and often needing no more than a mere hint.

However, this accuracy and sensitivity is not characteristic of all passages. In some scenes, the excessive clarity of the setting has a denunciatory effect (as in Pums' pompous office) and some of the cast also overact sometimes, especially in the gang scenes. This leaves viewers with the impression that some of the scenes were merely a matter of routine for Fassbinder as he was compelled to include the various plots in order to make the main story comprehensible; perhaps he just ran out of breath sometimes in the course of 15 hours. Yet whenever he returns to the real story, i.e. the relationship between Biberkopf, Reinhold and Mieze, the film once again becomes a personal confession. The fourth part, Biberkopf's despair and his lonely bout of drinking, thus becomes the first climax in the series; part 12, Reinhold's meeting with Mieze in the woods, becomes a deeply disquieting analysis of the emotions of rejection and attraction; the epilogue "My dream of Franz Biberkopf's dream" becomes a gloomy pasolini-like phantasmagoria. Unfortunately it is not without a few awkward moments, such as when Biberkopf is nailed to the cross, a nuclear mushroom rises into the sky and Janis Joplin sings "Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose". The director-dreamer Fassbinder is once again overtaken on a very ambitious aesthetic level by the self-pity already found in FAUSTRECHT DER FREIHEIT and it depends very much on the viewers' mood whether or not they will find this collage of symbols to their taste.

Production Country
Germany (DE)
Production Period
Production Year
Aspect Ratio

Feature-Length Film (61+ Min.)
Feature Film, Series / Miniseries
Literary Adaptation, Drama
Justice, Violence, Love, Relationship / Family, Work, Weimar Republic, Friendship, Sexuality, Psychology, Precarity

Scope of Rights
Nichtexklusive nichtkommerzielle öffentliche Aufführung (nonexclusive, noncommercial public screening),Keine TV-Rechte (no TV rights)
Notes to the Licence
zusätzliche UT: finnisch, norwegisch, schwedisch
Licence Period
Permanently Restricted Areas
Germany (DE), Austria (AT), Switzerland (CH), Liechtenstein (LI), Alto Adige, Luxembourg (LU)

Available Media
DVD, Blu-ray Disc, DCP
Original Version
German (de)


German (full), English (en), French (fr), Spanish (Latin America), Finnish (fi), Norwegian (no), Swedish (sv), Danish (da)
Note on the Format
14 Teile, 7 DVDs

Blu-ray Disc

English (en), French (fr), Spanish (Latin America), Portuguese (Brazil), Finnish (fi), Norwegian (no), Swedish (sv), Danish (da)
Note on the Format
DCP (uv), ohne UT, e, f, s, port. dän. fin. norw. schwe. UT; BD-dto.


English (en), French (fr), Spanish (Latin America), Portuguese (Brazil), Danish (da), Finnish (fi), Norwegian (no), Swedish (sv)
Note on the Format
DCP (uv), ohne UT, e, f, s, port. dän. fin. norw. schwe. UT; BD-dto.