Franz Biberkopf (Günther Lamprecht) is trying to turn legit and the world won’t let him. He’s had to quit a job selling a Nazi paper because he has to wear the swastika and it’s turned former friends against him. His girlfriend Lina ( Elizabeth Trissenaar)is too religious to let him sell the sex-education booklets. There are ¾ of a million people in Berlin. How are they to live? Lina’s ‘uncle’ Otto (Marquard Bohm) advises them to join him selling shoe-laces door-to-door door-to-door. Franz meets a vulnerable widow. He looks like her husband. They have sex and she gives him money. Franz makes the mistake of telling Otto and sharing the money with him. But Otto betrays him and uses the knowledge Franz unwittingly provided to rob the widow. Betrayed by the people he trusted most, Otto runs away. His girlfriend goes in search of him in the dosshouse he’s staying in but he doesn’t want to be found. There are some lessons he’d rather not have learned.
What caught my eye in this episode was
- The whole brown and amber of the film, even more pronounced in this episode.
- The way so many shots include a background separator –store-fronts, internal doors and windows, mirrors, that frames faces or cast shadows.
- The way Fassbinder adopts Döblin by including bible passages, songs into the narration itself.
- The way intertitles re-direct narration (see below).
- the beautiful passage where he goes buy flowers for the widow (see below).
Flowers for death