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Love Is Colder Than Death: The Cinema of Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Saturday, December 14, 2013
8:40 p.m. Querelle
Rainer Werner Fassbinder (Germany/France, 1982)

Imported Print!

Emphasizing through the use of studio sets the heightened artificiality that fascinated Fassbinder late in his career, Querelle tells the story of tangled and nightmarish erotic passions set in the underworld of the French port of Brest. The script is based on Jean Genet’s infamous novel Querelle de Brest, concerning a sailor’s discovery of his homosexuality through rape. As in much of Fassbinder’s work, sexuality is a force employed ruthlessly to maintain power over others. The sailor Querelle (Brad Davis) visits a waterfront brothel where he engages in a game of dice to sleep with the madam (Jeanne Moreau). Losing, he must endure the attentions of her husband instead, an encounter which opens up a new world of previously forbidden attractions and increasingly brutal pleasures, all ruled by the arbitrary laws of the strange establishment in which he finds himself.

—Barbara Scharres, The Film Center, Chicago

• Written by Fassbinder, based on the novel by Jean Genet. Photographed by Xavier Schwarzenberger. With Brad Davis, Franco Nero, Jeanne Moreau, Hanno Pöschl. (108 mins, In German with English subtitles, Color, 35mm, From Gaumont, permission Janus Films/Criterion Collection)