Meck (Franz Buchrieser) introduces Biberkopf (Günther Lamprecht) to Pums (Ivan Desny) and there’s the fateful meeting with Reinhold (Gottfried John), stuttering, thin, avoiding alcohol, obsessed with women, and visiting the Salvation Army to try and save himself from what he knows is a compulsion.
This episode has two axes, the unfolding relationship with Reinhold, and then the inter-related trade in women he subtly seduces Biberkopf into. As the episode begins Eva (Hanna Schygulla), his old flame, whom he used to pimp, has been paying his room for him whilst he’s been away. It’s the same room where he stuck down Ida (Barbara Valentin) , where he lived with Lina (Elizabeth Tissenaar), where Reinhold will send him Fränze (Helen Vita) and Cilly (Annemarie Düringer), and where he will offload Fränze onto the newsagent (Klaus Höhne). He no longer wants to be a pimp but he seems to have no trouble trading in women, and gaining some advantage from him, that whilst not monetary, is still material (shoes, furs, services), and where doing a friend a favour begins to thin the line between using women, increasingly oblivious to their feelings, and living off their earnings. Cilly accuses Franz of being a pimp and worse than Reinhold, which he insists he’s not.
First fateful meeting with Reinhold
What I found particularly compelling in this episode was the rhyming of the initial meeting with Reinhold to the later meeting just before they go into the Salvation Army, here Fassbinder as narrator, intones: ‘There is a reaper whose name is Death, with power from Almighty God. He now whets the knife all the better to slice. He’ll soon shear his path, then we’ll feel his wrath.’ The viewer knows something about Reinhold that Biberkopf can’t yet even begin to intuit, and the discrepancy between who Reinhold is and who Reinhold takes him to be, will develop into tragedy
Fassbinder’s narrational interjection