Biberkopf (Günther Lamprecht) is drinking himself into a stupor in a new boarding house. He walks around the streets in an alcoholic delirium mistaking a delivery man for a pastor. In his easy way he makes friends with the caretakers, the Greniers, who tell him all about the other tenants, their jobs and their plights. Baumann (Gerhard Swerenz), another neighbour, and via the wonderful parable of Job, dramatized via a card game, tells Biberkopf that the angels and the devil all want to help Biberkpof, each for their own reasons, but nothing will change until he helps himself. Eva arrives to help him out, tells him she still loves him and will always look out for him, but he doesn’t want to be a pimp and tells her he needs to find his own way out of his plight, which by the end of the episode, he does.
What caught my eye in this episode is the way Fassbinder dramatises:
- Visually the bottles and the sick
- He creates a whole world just through having Frau Grenier describe the other people in the building in some detail.
The limp-dick episode
3. The ‘limp-dick episode’ that plays out over the solicitor reading out his views on venereal disease resulting from male heterosexual adulterous sex.
4. The parable of job playing cards is brilliantly enacted.
5.The parable of the slaughterhouse, poetically read by Fassbinder himself, with vintage pictures, is wonderful
6.The parable of the shepherd killing the sheep is a moment of dreamlike theatricality, very effective.
7. The dramatization of the Grenier’s dealings with the gangs, their double-crossings and their arrest. A major chapter in the Döblin novel, here told through others, almost as background, and wonderfully effective as social context and also as a critique of what seems respectable but is not.
8. The narrative tying to gether of seemingly loose ends begun with the poetic voice-over read by Fassbinder (see above). The encounter with with the news-seller where we get the beginning of the diatribe against marriage, and then the reunion with Meck (Franz Buchrieser), a step up towards criminality and a way of finding out what happened to Lina (Elizabeth Trissenaar), and a pessimistic and unsentimental view on relationships.