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Rio das Mortes
Rio das Mortes
Actors: Marius Aicher, Hanna Axmann-Rezzori, Harry Baer, Rudolf Waldemar Brem, Ingrid Caven
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Television
NR     2002     1hr 24min

The films of Rainier Werner Fassbinder take a bit of getting used to. At first, Rio Das Mortes will seem wooden and sluggish--but as you grow accustomed to Fassbinder's stylized filmmaking, the movie grows elegant. Hanna (...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Marius Aicher, Hanna Axmann-Rezzori, Harry Baer, Rudolf Waldemar Brem, Ingrid Caven
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Television
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Television
Studio: Fox Lorber
Format: DVD - Color,Full Screen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 11/19/2002
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1970
Release Year: 2002
Run Time: 1hr 24min
Screens: Color,Full Screen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 3
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: German
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

Fassbinder is a great filmmaker, but not in Rio das Mortes
J. Clark | metro New York City | 01/07/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)

"[2-1/2 stars] Rio das Mortes (1971) is Fassbinder's strangely comic film about two young men, with no prospects for the future, who want to go to South America's Rio das Mortes region in search of hidden treasure. Although the DVD was made from the best surviving archival materials, it was originally filmed for television in 16mm and the resulting grain is at times severe.Fassbinder is one of the most extraordinary filmmakers of recent decades, and his pictures often become more compelling as we resee them. Unfortunately, that is not the case here. Astonishingly, Fassbinder made nine feature films between 1970 and 1971, and the strain shows in Rio das Mortes. Although its two final scenes are vintage Fassbinder, much of the first 80 minutes seem slapdash by comparison. Dramatically and visually, it is not up to the level of his other work, even from this early period. The credits name fellow New German Cinema director Volker Schlöndorff (1975's The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum, 1979's The Tin Drum) with the story idea. Since this film often feels made up on the spot, that "idea" had to take the place of a crafted screenplay. Of course, improvisation can be a powerful tool - and Fassbinder often used it effectively - but not in Rio das Mortes.Although the film is primarily a character study, the characters are not well developed. Michael König (the lead in Fassbinder's previous film, The Niklashausen Journey) and Günther Kaufmann (who would soon do the title role in Whity), play two ingratiating slackers with the same names as themselves. When Mike rediscovers a treasure map - about a quarter through the film - they are excited that at last they have a goal. But how could Mike ever have misplaced such a map? Where did he get it in the first place? And why wasn't this pivotal scene dramatized, instead of being described during a blatantly expository telephone call? By pinching their pfennigs and borrowing the rest, the buddies plan to fly to South America, find the lost gold of the Rio das Mortes, and come back filthy rich!!The film's ill-conceived second half is basically a series of redundant scenes in which the guys alternately try to raise money (by a stroke of impossible luck, they stumble onto a wealthy patroness who bankrolls everything) and contact various "experts" on Peru, including a librarian and the embassy. Not only are these authorities dramatically tedious, their command of geography is shockingly off. Fassbinder's screenplay is sending them to *Peru's* Rio das Mortes, but in fact that region is located almost two thousand miles away, in southeastern *Brazil's* state of Minas Gerais! And the film gives no clue how far off course they will be. Is the viewer supposed to know these fine points of geography? I would not, except for hours of trolling the Internet and reference books on my own "treasure hunt" for information (the Rio das Mortes has an extremely colorful history).Another problem is that the characters are vague, not richly ambiguous as in many other Fassbinder films. For instance, there is an intriguingly subtle relationship between Mike's girlfriend Hanna (played by the wonderful Hanna Schygulla, who appeared in half of Fassbinder's films) and her unnamed friend, the soon-to-be ex-wife of a pompous scholar named Joachim. Although this remains ill-defined, it does add some dimension to the pivotal, but underwritten, character of Hanna, who stands between the film's two male leads.And with the focus on Mike and Günther, you might expect the openly gay filmmaker, with his penchant for digging beneath the surface of genres (this is Fassbinder's "buddy movie"), to explore the men's relationship. But he does not. This lack of any deep connection between her fiancé and Günther makes Hanna's climactic jealousy all the more mystifying. So as not to spoil the film's richest surprises - which occur in the final five minutes - I will not go into them here.As Fassbinder once said, he learned from all of his films, even the ones which he considered failures. While I do not know what he thought of Rio das Mortes, even after two viewings - and despite its intriguing final scenes - it seems one of his weakest efforts. But this eighth Fassbinder feature does toss out, in rough form, ideas and emotional resonances which will be powerfully developed in the 33 films he was still to make."
What's The Deal?
M. Hencke | New York, NY United States | 09/18/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Almost every review I have read of this film treats it as lesser Fassbinder but I think its a wonderful little movie. Its just so much fun. I found the the film to be a refreshing breath of fresh air because there is a heavy sense of gloom over many of the themes in RWF's films (granted i love this aspect about them - let it be said he is my favorite director ever)...But in this film...Hanna Schygulla, Gunther Kauffman, Fassbinder they are all so likeable in this and the story is so simple yet engaging...Okay maybe it isn't Martha, The BRD Trilogy, I Don't Want You To Love Me or Ali: Fear Eats The Soul...But even a so called "so so" Fassbinder film is still a triumph in my mind. I mean the theme in this film could not be more universal and that scene with Fassbinder dancing with Schygulla in the bar...Priceless."