Screening: 25 March 2006
West Germany 1974
SynopsisComing at the midpoint of his career, Effi Briest is one of Fassbinder's greatest, and most universally acclaimed films. It is based on Theodor Fontane's classic 1895 novel, concerning the consequences of betrayed love.
Seventeen-year old Effi Briest is married to the older Baron von Instetten and moves into a house, that she believes has a ghost, in a small isolated Baltic town.
Effi is lonely when her husband is away on business, so she spends time riding and walking along the shore with Major Crampas. Von Instetten is promoted to Ministerial Councillor and the family moves to Berlin. Six years later, the Baron is given letters from Crampas to Effi that convince him that they had an affair. He feels obliged to challenge Crampas to a duel and banish Effi from the house.
The slow, deliberate pace is sometimes taxing, but this story of a 17-year-old girl locked in the boredom of a loveless marriage is perfectly suited to Fassbinder's stifling mise-en-scene.
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Film FactsThe full title of the film is "Fontane Effi Briest or Many People Who Are Aware of Their Own Capabilities and Needs Just Acquiesce to the Prevailing System in Their Thoughts and Deeds, Thereby Confirm and Reinforce It".
In 1919 Thomas Mann hailed Effi Briest as one of "the six most significant novels ever written".
Fassbinder died of a drug overdose in Munich, at the age of 36, on June 10, 1982, symbolically marking the end of the most experimental period of the German cinema since the 1920s.