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1975 | 123 min.
Fox and His Friends

By Wieland Speck

 

 

Fox and His Friends

Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder | Germany, 1975 | 123 minutes | Color
Languages: German with English subtitles
Rental formats: DCP (remastered version)
US distributor: Criterion Collection / Janus Films
World distributor: Rainer Werner Fassbinder Foundation / Antonio Exacoustos
(35 mm and 16 mm copy with English subtitles at EFS and Filmarchiv Austria)

The end of the 1960s was marked by upheavals far beyond Europe and the United States. Students from Mexico to Tokyo demanded previously denied freedoms. The postwar gay and lesbian movements in Germany were politicized by the African-American civil rights movement and by the new feminism, and fueled by the Stonewall uprising in Greenwich Village. Films by feminists such as Ula Stöckl and Helke Sanders, new experimental works, and the New German Cinema entered the market. Productions such as Young Törless (Volker Schlöndorff, 1966), Hunting Scenes from Bavaria (Peter Fleischmann, 1969), Ludwig: Requiem for a Virgin King (Hans-Jürgen Syberberg, 1972), and The Tenderness of Wolves (Uli Lommel, 1973) paved the way for Rosa von Praunheim and Martin Dannecker’s collective production “Not the Homosexual Is Perverse, But the Society in Which He Lives” (1970, TV broadcast 1973) which first drove leftwing gays onto the street.
 
The master of New German Cinema, whose straightforwardness provoked angry reactions in his time, plays the most provocative role in FOX AND HIS FRIENDS himself: Rainer Werner Fassbinder is the gay proletarian who breaks down in the face of homosexual middle-class arrogance. This outstanding film depicts the state of West German postwar society in a haunting way. The winners of the economic miracle cultivate a reactionary attitude, even if they are homosexuals – unpolitical opportunists as cold as ice. At the same time, there is a belief in social mobility and the desire of homosexuals to belong. Cinematographer Michael Ballhaus finds cinematic images for a depressing scenario of phoniness that belong to the best of German postwar cinema.
 
The broadcast on national television of The Consequence (Wolfgang Petersen, 1977) after Alexander Ziegler’s eponymous novel was another milestone. The author was in prison because of his homosexuality and reflected on this torturous experience in the script.

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