, Volume 96, Issue 2, pp 287–300 | Cite as

Berlin Alexanderplatz: Brecht/Döblin/Fassbinder—in search of synthesis

  • Peter K. Tyson


With its voice-over narrator, Gothic captions and distancing devices, Fassbinder’s Berlin Alexanderplatz (1980) has been compared to his 1974 adaptation of Fontane’s Effi Briest. Döblin’s novel, with its avant-garde and Brechtian aspects, appealed to Fassbinder from an early age, although mainly for personal, emotional reasons. However, Fassbinder’s Berlin Alexanderplatz lacks the stifling rigidity and stilted artificiality of his Effi Briest. In the first thirteen episodes, he made Döblin’s modernist masterpiece more accessible by simplifying the storyline and allowing mainly realistic, emotional, non-stylised acting. Günter Lamprecht and Barbara Sukowa as Franz and Mieze tug at the heartstrings. These episodes are closer to the amalgam of Naturalism and “Verfremdung” which we later find in Lola (1981). Fassbinder once said that he went further than Brecht. Perhaps, he has achieved here his desire of fusing Brecht and Sirk, of synthesising “Verfremdung” and emotionalism? Was Fassbinder, unlike Döblin, a bourgeois intellectual author and Olympian narrator, who kept his proletarian non-intellectual anti-hero at a distance, more sympathetic to Franz because of the novel’s importance during his teenage years and the themes it provided for many of his films?


Fassbinder Döblin Brecht Berlin Alexanderplatz “Verfremdung” 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.EuxtonUK

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