Tackling the Beast: Berlin Alexanderplatz (1980)

Last night at 7pm (just over exactly 24 hours ago for me), I started watching Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s 15-hour masterwork Berlin Alexanderplatz. I had not planned to start watching it, and upon my discovery of the entire film on YouTube, I decided on the spur-of-the-moment that I would watch it gradually over the next two weeks. The film is split into 14 episodes, so I thought I’d watch one episode per night for fourteen days. That night I watched two episodes. The moment I got up the next morning I turned on the laptop and started episode three. Then four. Then five. Then six. Now, as I’m writing this, I’m about to start episode seven. That means I’ve watched approximately 380 minutes of this 900-minute film in just over twenty-four hours.

It won’t continue at this pace, though. Tomorrow I’m taking a trip to watch the Pro/Am golf tournament (featuring American actor Don Cheadle) and I shall be away for the whole day. So tonight, I’m trying to watch as many episodes of this mammoth film as I can before calling it a day. Since the day after tomorrow will be Monday for me, I won’t be seeing at at a very quick rate over the week, but I hope to have it finished before Thursday, as we are going away for an Easter weekend holiday on that date and I won’t be back until the following Monday.

Since I had nothing else to post today (and there won’t be a post tomorrow), I thought I’d fill you in on my latest film-watching venture, and the incredible places to which it is taking me. I’m not even halfway through Berlin Alexanderplatz, but I can say with all certainty that it is a magnificent spectacle, a truly great film neatly cut up into episodic form. With each episode I finish, I can’t wait to start the next one, and the moment I finish it, I’ll be sure to post a review.

What about you? Have you seen the film? Does the prospect of a 15-hour movie pique your interest, or make you recoil in horror? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below, and pray for my soul.

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Posted on March 31, 2012, in Movies, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. 15 hours is a bit much for me…but if I viewed it as a TV show I’d probably get through it over a few weeks.

    And Don Cheadle is down your way? I saw on his Twitter that he was living it up in NZ. If you see him, tell him to come to Dannevirke. It is really nice here. LOL JK.

    • It is more of a TV show than a movie, definitely. I can’t believe how many episodes I’m watching in one day though. It’s surprisingly addictive.

      HAHAHA I’m going to see if I can get him to say “This is the highest quality fidelity,” like he did in BOOGIE NIGHTS. That would be supremely awesome.

  2. It piques my interest greatly, though I couldn’t watch it at the rate you’re doing. I’ve watched five-hour films in one day before, but those were aberrations; normally I can’t give that much mental energy to something for that long. I could probably watch one disc of Berlin Alexanderplatz per day, but that’d be my limit before I had to do something else.

    • Well, it’s a very boring weekend and I don’t have anything else to do. When I go to the golf tournament tomorrow, I will be getting some fresh air though, so that will be good.

  3. Could you link somewhere to the first episode on Youtube? A 15 hour film seems like something that I would want to watch.

  4. I’ll leave the first part of the film below, but part 14, the final part, has had its audio disabled, so you may have to find it elsewhere, or else just read the subtitles and deal with there being no sound.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWTL3EGHcsA

  5. It’s interesting to me that I (and apparently others as well) hear “15 hour film” and recoil a bit, or at least feel like I’d need to really steel myself up to prepare for that. But I can marathon an 18-hour TV season in two days without thinking twice. I don’t know how often I’ve thought “oh, I don’t want to spend two hours watching a movie right now, let me just put on a TV episode instead” and then end up watching three or four hour-long episodes, thus defeating the purpose. That’s neither here nor there, but it is funny how I get tied to an idea of how long movies are supposed to be.

    All that said, I’m quite curious to check out Berlin Alexanderplatz, but I feel like I need to start with some of Fassbender’s shorter work first. Despite the “steel myself” reaction, I kind of see long films as a welcome challenge. I just have to be ready for them.

    • Yeah, that’s very interesting. Berlin Alexanderplatz is much closer to a TV series than it is to a film, though I interchangeably refer to it as both. Anyway, people shouldn’t be so afraid of it. It’s never boring and always interesting, and one episode a night for two weeks is the best way to tackle it. Or, just watch it in the same manner you’d watch a TV show on DVD, there are plenty of ways to do it.

      I’ve become more adjusted to long movies recently. Some of my favourites are very long. In March alone I saw Satantango, rewatched A Brighter Summer Day and The Best of Youth. All those films are long, but they kept me invested and interested, and believe it or not, I saw the seven-hour Satantango in one sitting. The length of a film doesn’t bother me. If it maintains my interest and does something creative, original and powerful, then I could watch forever.

  6. Thanks for the link, buddy! I’ve been wanting to watch this for years. Enjoy your break.

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