Chinese Roulette (1976) by Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Thursday, April 9, 1987, 7:30 pm

Fassbinder’s Bolweiser and Chinese Roulette


800 Chestnut Street

San Francisco, CA, 94133

These two rarely screened gems from Fassbinder’s prolific “middle period” (both were made in 1976) present the great German director at the height of his artistry. Bolweiser, based on the novel by Oscar Graf, deals with the frustration, self-deception, and eventual disintegration of a middle-class stationmaster in ‘20s Weimar republic Germany after his wife has a series of extra-marital affairs. Chinese Roulette is perhaps the most stylistically dazzling of Fassbinder’s films, a complex series of compositions orchestrating elaborate camera movement, mise-en-scene, and shots reflected from mirrors. A crippled teenage girl, her mute governess, her parents and their lovers spend a weekend engaging in a protracted power struggle. The film culminates in a spectacularly fiendish parlor game that offers unlimited opportunities for psychological sadism.