fbpx Effi Briest | George Eastman Museum

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Effi Briest

Saturday, June 6, 2015, 8 p.m., Dryden Theatre

At first glance, Fassbinder’s cool, detached adaptation of Theodor Fontane’s 19th-century German realist novel may seem the least likely entry in an extensive oeuvre known for its bold melding of provocative politics and candid sexuality. But Fassbinder had wanted to adapt the book from the very outset of his film career, and with its constricting compositions and strange staging—think Douglas Sirk by way of Bertolt Brecht—the result is without a doubt a Fassbinder film. Married off to a cold, didactic civil servant (Wolfgang Schenck) nearly twice her age, and now languishing in a provincial Prussian town on the edge of the Baltic sea, fanciful 17-year-old Effi (the marvelous Hanna Schygulla) finds the warmth and excitement she craves in the bed of a handsome cavalier (Ulli Lommel). It’s a transgressive tryst that’s doomed from the start, and its tragic consequences reveal Fassbinder’s ongoing fascination with sex, power, and oppression.