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In a Year With 13 Moons
In a Year With 13 Moons
Actors: Volker Spengler, Ingrid Caven, Gottfried John, Elisabeth Trissenaar, Eva Mattes
Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Cult Movies
UR     2004     2hr 4min

When the object of his affection off-handedly commented, "too bad you're not a girl", Erwin disappeared to Casablanca and returned as Elvira. Now, adrift and alone amid the maze of the Frankfurt streets, Elvira revisits th...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Volker Spengler, Ingrid Caven, Gottfried John, Elisabeth Trissenaar, Eva Mattes
Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Creators: Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Juliane Lorenz
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Cult Movies
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Love & Romance, Drama
Studio: Fantoma
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 04/13/2004
Original Release Date: 06/11/1980
Theatrical Release Date: 06/11/1980
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 2hr 4min
Screens: Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 7
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: German
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

Fassbinder's Dark Masterpiece
moses the man | Pittsburgh, PA., USA | 01/07/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This film is a masterpiece because of the way it challenges viewers: it refuses to be mere escapist entertainment as so many movies are. It bleakly confronts the way the legacy of the holocaust in Germany and the alienation of modern capitalism have turned people into soulless machines: love is impossible, a real life of honest emotion becomes unlivable. The main character, Elvira Weishaupt, is a lonely, forgotten soul who is kicked around and ignored by the rest of the world; what gives her life meaning is that she once loved someone passionately enough to change her entire life and identity for him, which, nonetheless, did not make any difference at all. Fassbinder mourns, in this film, the violent mysterious deaths of two previous lovers, El Hedi Ben Salem and Armin Meier; he bears witness to the crushing collapse of the utopian dreams of free love and personal liberation that marked the 1960's. This is one of Fassbinder's most intellectual films (Schopenhauer, Kafka and Sartre are all explicitly referenced) but it's also one of his most human and heartfelt, using great music (Mahler, Roxy Music, Connie Francis) to express the bittersweet longings of the main character. This is a nihilist statement that can actually make people appreciate life -- Utopia is what we all make of it, and everyone is an "outsider" in one way or another."
Extraordinary late Fassbinder film
G. Merritt | 04/20/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Despite the flaws of '13 Moons,' I still believe that this is one of Fassbinder's best films. Part of that conclusion is of course the understanding that every Fassbinder film has flaws. But I judge films on how effective they were in telling a story and how effective they are in making me think. And this film still has a strong impression on me 10 years after seeing it last. For me, the film is best understood during the skyscraper sequence. We have an unknown character peeping through a keyhole in an abandoned office tower and laughing hysterically. That of course, is Fassbinder's little jab at the audience, as we are all voyeurs. Later, we see an executive playing a kind of "movieokie" / imitation of a Jerry Lewis sequence on television. A total carbon copy of a preexisting text, done in the twisted humorous style that only Fassbinder can deliver. We later see that same executive subject himself to a staged kidnapping drill by his security staff, which places the film in historical context as left-wing terrorists attacked CEO's during the 1970's. And finally, we see a man hang himself in an abandoned suite. It is over the top, unrealistic, and I'm sure it is torture for most viewers (if they weren't driven out by the early slaughterhouse scene), but it is still a masterpiece as it is a compelling example of post-modernism in the true sense. If you are a student of New Wave or Avant Garde cinema, 13 Moons is a must-see. I can't convince you that it is a masterpiece. You just have to see it for yourself. It ranks with "The American Soldier," "The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant," "Love is Colder than Death," "Chinese Roulette," and "Fox and his Friends," as Fassbinder's best works. If you want to see the darkest work of art to come of out West Germany in the late 1970's, this is it."
In a year of personal catastrophe.
G. Merritt | Boulder, CO | 10/24/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

""Every seventh year is a lunar year. Those people whose lives are essentially dominated by their emotions suffer particularly strongly from depressions in these lunar years. The same is also true of years with 13 new moons, albeit not quite so strongly. And if a lunar year also happens to be a year with 13 new moons, the result is often a personal catastrophe."

During his short life (1945-1982), Rainer Werner Fassbinder made 43 films in all, establishing him as one of the most prodigious directors in film. Many of his films involve characters considered to be social deviants. Inspired by his romantic relationship with butcher Armin Meier, who starred in seven of the director's films before committing suicide in 1978, Fassbinder's film, In a Year of 13 Moons (In einem Jahr mit 13 Monden), is about a personal catastrophe. It tells the story of an unhappy transsexual, Elvira Weishaupt (Volker Spengler), who is forced to confront her deviant existence after undergoing a sex change for a lover who then left her. The film is set in Frankfurt during a year of 13 moons: 1978, also the year of Meier's suicide. Humiliated by her lover Christoph (Karl Scheydt), Elvira's resulting descent into sadness, emptiness, and loneliness is a universal journey of anyone who has ever been betrayed by love. In a Year of 13 Moons is not so much a film about despair, social cruelty, or ennui, as it is a lesson in what it means to be human, and in compassion for social outcasts. While this was my first Fassbinder film, it does not surprise me that other reviewers below have called In a Year of 13 Moons their favorite Fassbinder film. There is much to love about this film. It is a rare film with the power to change one's perceptions, which is the quality of any truly great work of art.

G. Merritt"
Fassbinder's most complex work...
Grigory's Girl | NYC | 09/22/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I initally saw this in a really poor VHS transfer from New Yorker Video, but obviously, the DVD is much better. This, along with Berlin Alexanderplatz, are my favorites of Fassbinder's work. There is such a strange, haunting quality to this film, from the early strains of Mahler's 5th symphony, 4th movement at the beginning (which is one of the most majestic pieces ever recorded, and one of my favorite symphonies that moves me to tears at times) that haunts the film to the very end. Even though it's about a transgender woman being jilted by her lover (the man she got the sex change for), her struggle for love is universal, which is why you can identify with it so strongly. It's incredibly sad, yet funny in spots too (much like life). It's one of Fassbinder's most complex films (which is saying something), and certainly one of his top 5 films. He made over 40 features in a 13 year time span (including miniseries and shorts), and he would probably be still going today if he didn't die of a drug overdose. I miss the ambition and the deep artistry of Rainer, whose films still haunt me (and us) today.

The DVD has some excellent interviews with those who worked on this film and with Rainer on many occasions. They talk about him with great feeling as if he were still alive today (in many ways, he is, as his work lives on). But you can skip Richard Linklater's tedious, self indulgent, and completely unrehearsed introduction. Linklater says a few interesting things, but he ends up coming across like a film professor who doesn't really understand Fassbinder's film except from an academic, overly intellectual point of view, and he talks about himself WAY too much."