Katzelmacher

1969 [GERMAN]

Drama

2
IMDb Rating 6.8/10 10 3127 3.1K
720p.BLU
821.56 MB
986*720
German 2.0
NR
us  
23.976 fps
1 hr 29 min
Seeds 6

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Perception_de_Ambiguity 7 / 10

Early Fassbinder

I think in big parts the film is about dynamics. Different couples with different dynamics. One couple in which the man treats his woman harshly, one in which he treats her more tenderly (until he is eager for more money) and one in which the woman has the upper hand in the household, apparently because she brings home the money. Yet they all seem to be in love with their partner and they are all friends with each other.

Money also plays an important role overall. Those who have money are more oppressive and dominating. As if having money gives one more of a right to tell your partner what he or she should do in things that have nothing to do with money. Two of the men consider doing something illegal, that should bring big bucks. This was the cause for some quarrels with their women who found the idea appealing but didn't want to risk it. We never learn what it was they had planned and eventually they dropped the idea. But the relationships with their women were hurt permanently by this dispute.

Everyone seemed to have sex with everyone (except the ugly woman), without being much of an issue, but hey, it was 1969. In fact, it only was an issue when one of the women demanded money for it. It made her a whore, but the other women doing it for free didn't make them whores. Except for maybe the woman who was said to have sex with the guest-worker from Greece.

The scenes of always two different characters walking, with the melancholic music I understood this way that the two people talk differently to each other when they are among themselves. Always more tender, no matter which two people it were. But once there are at least three people the dynamics change for the worse.

At the beginning I found the film quite alien, because of the apparent disjointness of the scenes, but the better I knew the characters the more drawn in I was and I soon started to get something out of most scenes. It was also alien because I was not used to the way they talk. Pretty stagy in pronunciation and phrasing. This could possibly be contributed to the fact that the cast and writer/director Fassbinder all came from theater with little film experience at that point.

There was no sense of time. It just goes from one conversation to another. From the dialogue you could gather that a lot of time passed overall, but it isn't really important to know how much. It was just important for the movie so to not have the plot stagnating, to see different sides of the characters. Although it could also be argued again that you don't get a sense of time passing because Fassbinder didn't yet know any better, since he was rather new to the medium of film.

Reviewed by zetes 6 / 10

Interesting in the development of a genius

Some geniuses are made, not born. Fassbinder, who has become one of my very favorite directors, did not begin his career making masterpieces, but clumsy art films. Katzelmacher is the story of a group of bored Germans, several men and several women, who spend their lives sitting, talking, smoking, and screwing each other (often for money). They treat each other like garbage, though they are too lazy to do any real damage. However, when a Greek immigrant rents an apartment from one of them, their cruelty becomes more and more tangible. The women begin spreading rumors about how the Greek (incidentally played by Fassbinder himself) is sleeping with certain members of the group and how he has tried to assault a couple of them. The men call him a communist behind his back, and then right to his face, as he speaks almost no German. When the Greek actually begins dating one of them (played by Fassbinder's most beloved actress, Hanna Schygulla), their threats no longer remain merely threats. It's a great story, really, and, if done in Fassbinder's more honed melodrama style, one of the most unique directorial voices we'll ever hear, it could have been a great film. But, in this early stage (this was his second feature film), Fassbinder was more of an avant-guard artist, striving towards Brecht, I suppose, and maybe looking towards the French New Wave. The results are mixed, but mostly leaning towards the annoying side. The film plays like a 90 minute Calvin Klein ad, with the camera lingering too long on motionless, disinterested performers. One of the better scenes has one of the actresses singing an American song in a delightfully amateurish manner while dancing. Somehow this is very beautiful. There is a repeated scene where two characters will walk forward on the same street, arm in arm, with soft piano music in the background (the only extra-diagetic music in the film). This gimmick didn't work very well. While there are some beautiful bits of the film – besides the aforementioned dance, the relationship between Fassbinder and Schygulla is rather gentle and melancholy – it pretty much fails. It's very worth seeing, however, if you're interested in the way Fassbinder's amazing career developed.

Reviewed by Quinoa1984 7 / 10

static and sometimes tracking (shots), and a message of tolerance being nil in society

There's not that much plot to Katzelmacher, but it's interesting the way it is. We're kind of looking at the late 60's German equivalent of what we might've seen in the 90's with certain movies (Clerks, the Linklater efforts, Kids) where we just see people hanging out and talking, but never about things that will really change their lives or affect them. This is accurate to disaffected youth, though Fassbinder makes it a little sexually charged here and there - nothing explicit, but there are some relationships that have fits and starts, mostly fits - and a 'new' person. A Greek man comes as a newcomer, and he's not really welcome. This makes up the conflict, though it doesn't seem that way at first.

It's tough to fully recall why the group turns on this Greek guy - maybe he said something or did something that made them turn, or it was his funny accent or way of speaking (I certainly remember the latter as it was one of those things that stuck out) - but the point is clear. Alienation drives so many of Fassbinder's story, and it's not simply the characters but the style itself here that gives off an alienating vibe. We see many shots that are just static on these guys (Fassbinder being one of them in the cast) hanging around, sitting down, smoking, talking, aimless, and then it'll cut to a shot of two women walking and talking in an apartment complex, and these are the only shots where music comes up (the same tinny piano music, by the way). It's in this atmosphere, in black and white no less, that things that look AND feel the same all the time can get disrupted by just one character.

I don't know if this is really among the director's best, and it's best I think to look at it as an early experiment. Certainly things he's dealing with here he'd explore throughout the rest of his career. It's not particularly engaging in the way of A-B-C unfold. You're just watching this very slow moving car wreck that's unfolding in a way that doesn't seem like it. Again, akin to one of those low-key character studies that would pop up in American independent cinema decades later. But it is interesting, for what it is, especially if you can be open to its intended aim of being *about* aimlessness and the way that underneath that is a lot of darkness.

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