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Love Is Colder Than Death: The Cinema of Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Saturday, November 2, 2013
6:30 p.m. World on a Wire
Rainer Werner Fassbinder (Germany, 1973)

(Welt am Draht). In this two-part television series, based on a science-fiction thriller by Daniel F. Galouyé, scientists at the Institute for Cybernetics and Future Research can simulate political and social events of the future and observe them on TV as if they were occurring at the moment. After the death of the Institute’s director, his colleague Stiller (Klaus Löwitsch) believes there is more than meets the TV-eye. True to movie formula, the late Herr Professor’s daughter (Mascha Rabben) assists Stiller in his investigation—which is not your basic detective fare. Rather, he begins to suspect that the seemingly real world in which they exist also is a simulation, and this makes Stiller a dangerous man. Fassbinder had in mind The Big Sleep, a model of perverse intricacy. But World on a Wire has been compared to Alphaville, with which it shares a steel and glass future-world that is actually the present one viewed through a paranoid lens, Godard’s “love and poetry” beating futilely against the cyberglass. Eddie Constantine, Alphaville's Lemmy Caution, appears in a cameo role.

—Judy Bloch

• Written by Fassbinder, Fritz Müller-Scherz, based on the novel Simulacron-3 by Daniel F. Galouyé. Photographed by Michael Ballhaus. With Klaus Löwitsch, Ulli Lommel, Barbara Valentin, Günter Lamprecht. (204 mins plus intermission, In German with English subtitles, Color, 35mm, From Janus Films/Criterion Collection)