Why Does Herr R. Run Amok?

1970, Movie, NR, 88 mins

Review

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Fassbinder's fourth film, WHY DOES HERR R. RUN AMOK? was first shown in Germany in 1970 when the director was only 24 years old. Raab stars as an industrial draftsman who leads a mundane life with his mundane wife and his mundane child. Improvisational scenes of Raab at work, at dinner with his boss, out with his family, and at a record store fill the first 80 minutes of the film. The result is often boring, but that is precisely Fassbinder's desired effect. The camera doesn't budge--letting characters walk in and out of frame--and the sound is often garbled or barely audible. Within this tedium, however, Fassbinder captures a frustrating and uneventful existence. The audience begins to feel the frustration Raab feels in his life. At the picture's end, Raab is watching television in his living room visibly annoyed at his wife's conversation with a friend. As their talk continues, Raab methodically walks to the television, grabs a heavy candelabra, and proceeds to bludgeon his family. The following day Raab goes into his bathroom at work and hangs himself. The emotional impact of the final minutes of the film is extremely powerful only in light of the tedium that precedes the murder. Because the audience feels a need to release tension, they are drawn into Raab's killing spree. The murders come as a shock, and one leaves the theater suffering from an emotional drain. Considerably less stylized than his other films, WHY DOES HERR R. RUN AMOK? is a product of Fassbinder's involvement with a group tagged "antitheater" that believed in a Socialist means of making films. This accounts for Fassbinder's sharing a codirection credit with Fengler (who later acted as a producer for Fassbinder). The result, however, is most definitely a Fassbinder film. A dark and bitter work that is difficult for some viewers and fascinating for others. (In German; English subtitles.) leave a comment

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