Scoring the holy whore

Fassbinder's Beware of a Holy Whore is a film about the making of a film. Completed in 1970, it was not released in German theatres until 1992, well after Fassbinder's death, due to the high costs of procuring music rights.12 Like other films predating his melodrama phase (which began with The Merchant of Four Seasons in 1971), Holy Whore borrows melodramatic conventions rather than exemplifying the genre tout court. Its narrative is skeletal, and little happens in the way of dramatic twists...

The camp encounter

It should probably come as no surprise that the Fassbinder film that gets the most opprobrium is Lili Marleen, whose focus on things, not people, is announced by its subtitle, the story of a song. Loosely based on the memoirs of Lale Anderson, whom Fassbinder's friend and critic Christian Braad Thomsen calls simply a cheap variety singer,37 it concentrates on the singer's wartime affair with Rolf Liebermann, the Jewish administrator, conductor, and occasional composer who would eventually...

Werner Schroeter Music and Alterity

Der Bomberpilot Film

Sickness itself can be a stimulant to life only one has to be healthy enough for this stimulant. Aestheticism is the product of times without hope, of states that kill hope. Kitsch is the element of evil in the value system of art. What Nietzsche attempts to resurrect in the remark above is precisely the killed-off hope that Heinrich Mann militates against. In this chapter, I turn to an especially demeaned form of aestheticism kitsch which can offer not just a sense of hope, but new ways for...

Melodrama and womens modalities

In the 1980s, scholars considered melodrama a women's genre, due to its historical popularity with female audiences and the spectatorial engagement it was believed to offer. Although these assumptions have been nuanced or overtly challenged since then, it is important to stress their importance in European film culture at the time. Directors like Margarethe von Trotta, Jeanine Meerapfel, and Helma Sanders-Brahms were closely aligned with the genre as were male counterparts like Reitz who were...

The power plant of tragedy

Just as trauma and allegorical readings disable conventional narrative historical forms, so too does opera, at least in the hands of Kluge, whose extraordinary The Power of Emotion blasts open its nineteenth-century forms. Scattered across the text like so many interrupted arias, unidentified rehearsals, performance fragments, manipulated film footage, stereoscopic mattes, time-lapse set changes, ironic voice-overs, fictional interviews, dozens of operas, and other European art music become the...

Refusing redemption herr r

Strictly speaking, Warum l uft Herr R Amok Why Does Herr R Run Amok 1970 is not a melodrama, nor even a genre film, although it borrows heavily from melodramatic traditions. It tells the story of a lower-middle-class man, Herr R, numbed from all sides boss, coworkers, mother-in-law, neighbors, even, apparently, his wife. Without explicit motivation, he suddenly kills her as she is talking with a neighbor, whom Herr R also murders before his own suicide. This tale of a beleaguered bourgeois...

Postmodern departures rationalism violence and bodies

Thus, despite the references to modernist concepts such as shock and violence, and despite the similarities to earlier composers such as Eisler a canonical figure to any German film composer , Raben and his colleagues leave the impression that these references provided cultural practices to be reworked rather than retrieved. Whereas Eisler wrote that motion-picture music should not become the tool of pseudo-individualization,66 Raben, by contrast, loads his score for Lola full of what he calls...

The four seasons

The Merchant Four Seasons Suicide

Given this yearning for different pasts and for other ways in which the present may have worked , it would be incorrect to say that Raben's melodramatic scores are without emotion or affect, however withholding they may seem. Consider Fassbinder's Merchant of Four Seasons, which follows the story of Hans Epp Hans Hirschm ller , a produce vendor taunted by his mother, his memories, and his current imperfect, inescapable station in life. His marriage has little passion, and after he suffers a...

Film music and shock

There were reasons why film music seemed particularly suited to the task of the technologies of shock and dehabitualized perception.As Eisler put it, By virtue of its character of immediacy and music still possesses this character to a greater extent than any other art it should stress the mediated and alienated elements in the photographed action and the recorded words, thus preventing confusion between reality and reproduction, a confusion that is all the more dangerous because the...