I had the pleasure of seeing Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s World on a Wire (1973) for the first time on the big screen. Being able to experience it in the theater as one whole, instead of on television in two parts, made for a much more immersive experience. It enveloped me in the atmospheric numbness that is Fassbinder’s stock in trade. It gave no relief from the protagonist’s cumulative paranoia. As Fassbinder’s only attempt at science fiction, it was the perfect vehicle for his trademark cold, antiseptic sting. The state of the art left me uneasy. Looking ahead to the future offered no respite. It intimated that the only hope to leave dystopia behind is for our consciousness to evolve. And we all know how good we humans are at that.
We paired World on a Wire and The Matrix (1999) this month to get two unique perspectives on human and machine. New German Cinema’s take on creator and creation is certainly worlds away from the Wachowki’s. Fassbinder’s has kitsch and contact on its side. It also has a more nuanced take on philosophy in general, and religion in particular. They’re apples and oranges, certainly, but World on a Wire leaves me feeling more like utopia might be possible, one day. We just need to keep reaching for that level above.
What you’ll find in this episode: technology as trinity, Fassbinder’s professional methods and personal peccadilloes, what happens when the simulation becomes aware of its artifice, and New German awkwardness.
Links and Recommendations:
Check out World on a Wire on IMDB.
Ericca’s further viewing pick of Rollerball.
Cole’s further viewing pick of The Tenderness of Wolves.
The official website of the Rainer Werner Fassbinder Foundation.
Just one brief look at the personal damage Fassbinder left in his wake.