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Gods of the Plague
Gods of the Plague
Actors: Harry Baer, Ingrid Caven, Micha Cochina, Carla Egerer, Jan George
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
NR     2003     1hr 31min

The short-lived skyrocket named Rainer Werner Fassbinder began his prolific directing career with a burst of rule-breaking movies in 1969-70. Gods of the Plague, from that early eruption, is a kind of homage-deconstruction...  more »

     
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Movie Details

Actors: Harry Baer, Ingrid Caven, Micha Cochina, Carla Egerer, Jan George
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Fox Lorber
Format: DVD - Black and White,Full Screen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 06/10/2003
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1969
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 1hr 31min
Screens: Black and White,Full Screen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 4
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: German
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

Visually stunning, dramatically understated film noir
J. Clark | metro New York City | 08/22/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Gods of the Plague (released in 1970) is a powerful, visually stunning, yet dramatically understated film noir - and pure Fassbinder; Wellspring's DVD transfer is detailed and crisp. Fassbinder himself ranked this film fifth on the list he made, shortly before he died, of "The Top 10 of My Own Films." Not only does he pay homage to some of the masterpieces of this genre which he loved (from Kubrick's The Killing and Aldrich's Kiss Me Deadly to Godard's Breathless and Band of Outsiders), he brings his unique perspective, including his incisive sense of humor. This film is the centerpiece in a loose trilogy - of which each picture has a distinct dramatic and visual style (all shot in black and white by his frequent cinematographer, Dietrich Lohmann) - beginning with his debut feature, Love is Colder Than Death (1969), and concluding with The American Soldier (1970). (In 1970 alone Fassbinder made five feature films and directed three major stage productions!) Characters recur throughout the series; and they often use the same names as the actors playing them. The pivotal role is two-bit Munich hood Franz Walsch, played by Fassbinder himself in the first and third films, but (perhaps confusingly) by Harry Baer here (although Fassbinder, wearing the same black leather jacket from the first film, has a droll cameo as a different character). Baer brings some intriguing new qualities to the role, most notably a sleek, feral, yet passive, sexiness. It is also worth noting that "Franz Walsch" was Fassbinder's frequent pseudonym; he used it in the credits for the many films which he edited.Fassbinder uses this trilogy - of which I believe Gods of the Plague is the best chapter - to explore many of the hidden aspects of the crime film, including its not infrequent homoerotic subtext, even as he expands its scope both psychologically and visually. This film alone should silence any criticism that Fassbinder is "not a visual director;" he was immensely flexible in creating the style best suited for each picture, ranging from the stark minimalism of Katzelmacher to the baroque extravagance of Chinese Roulette. Even at this early point in his career, he is a master at combining image and drama - carefully balanced between realism and stylization - to create an effect far greater than the sum of its parts. Fully as expressive as the visual design is the enormous depth of his characters. But that is revealed not so much through dialogue as furtive eye movements, the smallest of gestures, and the many riveting silences which punctuate this film. Comparing the menage a trois here (Franz, Margarethe, and "Gorilla," the affable hit man who killed Franz's brother - "It was only business" - but whom Franz loves anyway) with the one in Love is Colder Than Death (not to mention Truffaut's Jules and Jim) is fascinating. I give Gods of the Plague my highest recommendation, but if possible see it in the context of the films which precede and follow it."