Century 1973: World on a Wire

World on a Wire. Rainer Werner Fassbinder. 1973.

I am no Fassbinder connoisseur, but I’ve seen my share. But I’m pretty sure this is a pretty abnormal Fassbinder film. On the other hand, aren’t they all? But this is sci-fi flick of sorts, and I don’t think that’s really his metier, is it?

It’s like no Fassbinder I’ve seen. I mean, there are some of the usual touches, like the pretty hippie boys, but the overtly romantic Hollywood scoring throughout is bizarre. Is this meant as a parody of (say) 2001 or Logan’s Run or something? Hm. That’s a bit later than this film…

Fassbinder’s “Italian” audio technique is slightly disturbing. I’m guessing that he didn’t record any audio on set, and had the actors do the lines again on a sound stage later, so the lips are always slightly out-of-sync, but more disturbing are all the foley effects. It’s like watching a radio play (with added pictures) where all the sounds are so… deliberate. When they want one of the character’s feet to make sound when he walks, they do, and when they don’t, they don’t.

But ANYWAY! This turns out to be a paranoid science fiction thing, and it reminds me a lot of the sci-fi masterpiece Liquid Sky (Which happened a decade later.) It’s got a proto-punk approach to making an sf film going on, and it’s just kinda entrancing.

But with more virtual reality. And mirrors. There’s a mirror in every single shot.

Oh, right:

Originally made for German television, this recently rediscovered, three-and-a-half-hour labyrinth is a satiric and surreal look at the world of tomorrow from one of cinema’s kinkiest geniuses.

And there’s this.

This must have been so strange to watch on TV at the time. But watching it now, the central revelation isn’t really a surprise, so there’s a certain impatience with having the protagonist discovering what’s going on, since we all understood that from about fifteen minutes into the film.

The documentary that Criterion has made for this film is quite interesting, but it includes some headache-inducingly stupid comments like that it’s “ironic” that Eva, who’s the only “real” character in the film is the one who acts the most artificially. Well, duh!!! THAT WAS FASSBINDER SIGNALLING THE ENTIRE POINT OF THE FILM!!!!


It’s emulations all the way down.

At least that what I thought Fassbinder was getting at. I mean, one of the characters says that.

This blog post is part of the Century series.

Leave a Reply