Merchant Of Four Seasons

DVD Rating: **

Reviewed by: Leanne McGrath

Read Leanne McGrath's film review of Merchant Of Four Seasons
Merchant Of Four Seasons

Only two extra features accompany Fassbinder's 1972 classic - and only one holds your attention all the way through.

The Women On Fassbinder documentary is a nice 60-minute piece featuring interviews with three of Fassbinder's most-used actresses - Merchant Of Four Seasons' Hanna Schygulla and Irm Hermann, Martha's Margit Carstensen and Veronika Voss' Rosel Zech.

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Each - shot in front of mirrors in a nice nod to one of Fassbinder's favourite techniques -gives a frank chat on what he was like both personally and professionally. Irm Hermann - who starred in 24 of his films - recalls his sensitivity and his brutality, revealing how he cruelly shunned her after she wed and had children.

Other topics include his mother, his bisexuality - his search for a father figure in older boyfriends - and, of course, his incredible writing and directing talent. Cut between the chats are a couple of nice montages of the actresses in their roles and shots of Fassbinder himself.

The other feature on offer - Life, Love and Celluloid - looks at Fassbinder but there is much more focus on Hollywood, trying to tie him in with the studio system and whether independent directors like him could have endured the cash over creativity ethic. It drags on for a painful 87 minutes - a lot of which is just shots of LA to music, Hanna Schygulla singing about Fassbinder's work and characters on stage and even folk dancing. It tries too hard to be clever and poor moments such as those mentioned turn you off the whole thing. A shame as there are some interesting interviews, such as chats with Bob Rosen, director of UCLA's film and video archive, Sundace director Geoffrey Gilmore and Ingrid Scheib Rothbart of the New York Fassbinder Foundation.

The extracts of Fassbinder's plays being acted on stage are also worth keeping an eye out for - particularly Just A Slice Of Bread, where a German man defends himself and his people against knowing anything about the Nazi Concentration Camp. Fassbinder, as always, speaking volumes about his nation.

Reviewed on: 08 Aug 2006
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Merchant Of Four Seasons packshot
Tragic tale of a put-upon fruit seller in post-war Germany.
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Product Code: FCD285

Region: 2

Ratio: 4:3

Sound: Dolby Digital mono

Extras: Women On Fassbinder documentary, Life, Love and Celluloid documentary

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