EPISODE THIRTEEEN OF BERLIN ALEXANDERPLATZ: THE OUTSIDE AND THE INSIDE AND THE SECRET OF THE FEAR OF THE SECRET
The beginning of Episode Thirteen is extraordinary: a sad song playing on a victrola; the beautiful caged parakeet fluttering in its cage; Fassbinder in voice-over relaying the destruction of Mieze’s body; and then the image of Franz Biberkopf, next to the Victrola, ‘wearing’ Mieze: her cloche hat, her lipstick, smeared. He’s mourning the loss of Mieze without yet realising the extent of it. She hasn’t just left him as he thinks. And the whole episode will be about Franz finally understanding what the audience already knows: that the woman he loves has been murdered by the man he loves.
When Franz grabs the beautiful innocent parakeet from its cage and kills it with his bare fist — beauty and innocence are no protection against the evils of this world – he gets closer to Reinhold than he realises: not just a narrative structural opposition but a signal that the worst aspects of their character sometimes intersect. The ending, where he finally understands, is a clichéd moment, very theatrical – Franz’s laughter, which seems to go on forever, turns to messy inescapable grief within the shot – beautifully performed in close-up by Günther Laprecht – and very effective. A beautiful and powerful ending to a great episode.