Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s controversial, fifteen-hour Berlin Alexanderplatz, based on Alfred Döblin’s great modernist novel, was the crowning achievement of a prolific director who, at age thirty-four, had already made over thirty films. Fassbinder’s immersive epic follows the hulking, childlike ex-convict Franz Biberkopf (Günter Lamprecht) as he attempts to “become an honest soul” amid the corrosive urban landscape of Weimar-era Germany. With equal parts cynicism and humanity, Fassbinder details a mammoth portrait of a common man struggling to survive in a viciously uncommon time.
Berlin Alexanderplatz was shot at a speed of 25 frames per second. Due to technical discrepancies between PAL and NTSC standards, the film is presented on the DVD edition at a slightly slower speed. On the Blu-ray edition, however, it was possible to present the film at its original speed. This accounts for the difference in run time between the two editions.
- High-definition digital restoration by the Rainer Werner Fassbinder Foundation and Bavaria Media, supervised and approved by director of photography Xaver Schwarzenberger, with DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack
- Two documentaries by Rainer Werner Fassbinder Foundation president Juliane Lorenz: one from 2007 featuring interviews with the cast and crew, the other from 2006 on the restoration
- Hans-Dieter Hartl’s 1980 documentary Notes on the Making of “Berlin Alexanderplatz”
- Phil Jutzi’s 1931 feature-length film of Alfred Döblin’s novel, from a screenplay cowritten by Döblin himself
- Interview from 2007 with Peter Jelavich, author of “Berlin Alexanderplatz”: Radio, Film, and the Death of Weimar Culture
- PLUS: A book featuring an essay by filmmaker Tom Tykwer, reflections on the novel by Fassbinder and author Thomas Steinfeld, and an interview with Schwarzenberger
Cover by Eric Skillman