Institute History

  • 1997 Sundance Film Festival


“I always make the same film again and again, obviously,” Fassbinder said of Querelle. “In my opinion it’s not a film about murder and homosexuality. It’s a film about someone trying, with all the means that are possible in this society, to find his identity. . . . And in order to become identical with himself, Querelle has to see everything he does from two sides. From what society calls the criminal side, or from below, and, because that’s no use, he has to mystify other people. That’s the only means Querelle has of making headway.”

It turned out that Querelle was the last film Fassbinder made, and in many ways it is a compendium of his work. Like Fox and His Friends, it revolves around alternately loving and abusive homosexual relationships and the mutual attraction between sadist and masochist. Like Effi Briest, it is purposefully literary; Fassbinder gives much more dialogue to the narrator than to any of the characters and uses intertitles in an attempt to capture the spirit of Genet’s book. Like Bremen Freedom, the set and lighting are surrealistic, and the acting is choreographed and artificial. Querelle turns on the discrepancy between its rather mundane thriller plot and the richly fantastic and mythological world which Genet embroiders around it. At its center is the way the love/hate relationship between Querelle and his brother Robert shapes everything else he does.

— Barbara Bannon

Screening Details

  • Section: Rainer Werner Fassbinder: Modern Renaissance Man
  • Film Type: Dramatic Feature
  • Country: Germany
  • Run Time: 106 min.
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