• World on a Wire (1973) - Rainer Werner Fassbinder


    “A text book example of a film that was ahead of its time.” Dennis Lim, The New York Times

    “One of the cinematic (re)discoveries of the year.”
    Chuck Stephens, Film Comment

    “Deserves to enter the pantheon of great SF movies.”
    Doug Cummings, filmjourney.org


    What if everything we think is real is just an illusion? This is not a new question — at least one character in Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s WORLD ON A WIRE  traces it back to Plato — and the version of it that this curious film presents will certainly be familiar to fans of THE MATRIX … WORLD ON A WIRE … is undeniably an artifact of its moment. The clothes, the cars and the furniture are richly, even extravagantly, redolent of the Euro-’70s, as is the anxious tremor of political and sexual unease that vibrates (along with a sinister, Muzak-y score) underneath the opulent surface … the film is also and unmistakably the work of its director, one of the most ferociously prolific and restlessly original artists German cinema has ever produced. (A.O.Scott, NYTimes, April 13, 2010)

    maxresdefaultWORLD ON A WIRE … involves a familiar sci-fi theme: The possibility that this entire world exists entirely inside another world, perhaps as a computer simulation … The story centers on Stiller (Klaus Löwitsch), an engineer who works for a program named Simulacron, which fabricates complete identities for characters who don’t know they’re unreal. In the film, Stiller and others discuss the notion that reality is unreal … Fassbinder’s camera massages his characters, gliding through elaborate spatial movements as if somehow their lives are connected in an occult way with the arrangement of space and time. The dialog is usually arch and ironic. The mannerisms — the smoking, the drinking, the sexual display — are affected. (RogerEbert.com, October 12, 2011)

    It’s remarkable how current it all seems. The movie’s mod furnishings, dated in 1973, have been several times revived and are currently in vogue. Its last 45 minutes have a computer-game logic, anticipating both David Cronenberg’s EXISTENZ and Mamoru Oshii’s AVALON. And the improbably romantic ending is pure 21st Century—who would have imagined Fassbinder an avatar of Avatar? (J. Hoberman, Village Voice, April 13, 2010)

    worldonawire2Never mind how inconceivable it is that busy Rainer Werner Fassbinder took time between his two crowning provocations, The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972) and Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974), to make a three-and-a-half-hour sci-fi sizzler for German TV. (He also wrote several episodes of a blue-collar labor drama and directed an Ibsen play.) Let’s just be thankful he did. World on a Wire is the discovery of the season, rarely screened in America but very much a key chapter in Fassbinder’s story—a step toward bigger budgets and slicker production values, yet clarifying of his core artistic legacy. (Joshua Rothkopf, TimeOut New York, April 15, 2010)

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