FASSBINDER COLLECTION ARROW VOL 1 and 2 BLU RAY review

Oh lord, sometimes we get all of the fun and other times we get the sense that what we do can be an object in futility. Arrow have provided us with a list of transfer links for the sets, without any of the extras attached or the ability to review the actual discs that will make up the sets that you will be paying over £50 a set for (if you are lucky). Now the conversation that most Blu Ray buying film fans are asking is, is this a marked improvement on the Fassbinder set that came out a year back and should I pay £150 to complete the set (as Part 3 is to be released in early 2022). Well the short answer is yes. But only for four reasons.

Reason one is for those who are excited by the move away from Arrow Academy to the plain Arrow releases. This 3 set is akin to the original double set on DVD that, It has to be said, is as much of what is on the original set release (shown on the left) but has upped the anti by moving away from the (very good) label detailed target of ‘worthy’ cinema and by association, a worthy film audience to buy and watch. Now I was always unsure as to the move away from the academy label. The label had different detailing, production values and used irregular people (Arrow now constant use of the same film voices, can prove untenable when said contributor falls out of favour or worse still their relationship sours as happened very recently with two prime ones). But I respect the logic. It seems to have been both a financial move and as a way out of the quandary like this, of releasing quality cinema but restricting the audience and so the contributors on the set. Though I note that Tony Rayns, who is a man of art and academia writing on cinema, is around.

The Second reason, though probably broader for the Blu Ray aficionado and less for the film fan of Fassbinder et al, is if you need to complete missed releases. So Collection 1 (already out in shops) is amalgam of some of the early set (EARLY WORKS, BITTER TEARS and MERCHANT) but has the added benefit of the previously released TENDERNESS OF WOLVES. The transfers are the same on both (and likely all three sets), sourced as they are from Fassbinder estate but the addition of this film adds a marked reason to part with your cash. The new commentary’s seem to be label ambition of broadening the offer to people but the joining up the dots of the many films here, is a worthwhile thing for those with space issues or less than impressed by the art work and such of the original issue. Also it is a chance for the film to fit into a narrative that would have respected some of Fassbinder’s work ethic and logic.

Reason Three is all about Collection 2. Film flow and great films together and is the better set of the two. So instead of being lumbered with three or four films you don’t like, you can have the best and ignore the rest. The completists are shaking here with an ire but let us be honest, the three sets are separate and connected, like your fingers and hand. FEAR EATS THE SOUL is his best film, followed closely by THE MARRIAGE OF MARIA BRAUN before we even mention FOX (then comes THE BITTER TEARS OF PETRA VON KANT). So that means the film newbie can explore these, at a sensible price and with a clear enough view of what is on offer.

Reason Four is even more simple. Arrow cant release these again. They have to stick with the collected versions and unless the Foundation ups the anti and 4Ks the lot, well you are stuck here.

COLLECTION 1

LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS

  • High definition digital transfers of all films prepared by the Rainer Werner Fassbinder Foundation
  • High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentations of all films
  • Original uncompressed PCM mono 1.0 sound for all films
  • Optional English subtitles for all films
  • Exclusive 140-page collectors booklet containing archive articles and interviews and new writing by Tony Rayns, David Jenkins, Nicole Brenez, Phuong Le, Carmen Gray and Sean Hogan

DISC ONE – THE EARLY WORKS: LOVE IS COLDER THAN DEATH and KATZELMACHER

  • Two early short films by Rainer Werner Fassbinder from 1966, The Little Chaos and The City Tramp
  • Interview with actor Ulli Lommel on Love is Colder Than Death
  • End of the Commune?, Joachim von Mengershausen’s 1970 documentary portrait of Fassbinder and his troupe including rare footage of his actors rehearsing and Love is Colder Than Death’s premiere at the 1969 Berlin Film Festival
  • Original theatrical trailer for Katzelmacher

DISC TWO – THE MERCHANT OF FOUR SEASONS and BEWARE OF A HOLY WHORE

  • Audio commentary on The Merchant of Four Seasons by critics Alexandra Heller-Nicholas and Christian McCrea
  • Audio commentary on Beware of a Holy Whore by Adrian Martin
  • Interview with actor Lou Castel on Beware of a Holy Whore
  • Beware of a Holy Whore theatrical trailer

DISC THREE – THE BITTER TEARS OF PETRA VON KANT

  • Commentary by filmmaker and lecturer Diane Charleson
  • Life Stories: A Conversation with R.W. Fassbinder, a 50-minute interview with the director conducted for German television in 1978
  • Role-Play: Women on Fassbinder, a 1992 documentary containing interviews with four of the director’s leading ladies, Margit Carstensen, Irm Hermann, Hanna Schygulla and Rosel Zech

DISC FOUR – TENDERNESS OF THE WOLVES

  • Audio commentary by director Ulli Lommel, moderated by Uwe Huber
  • Introduction by Ulli Lommel
  • The Tender Wolf, a newly-filmed interview with Lommel
  • Photographing Fritz, a newly-filmed interview with director of photography Jürgen Jürges
  • Haarmann’s Victim Talks, a newly-filmed interview with actor Rainer Will
  • An appreciation by Stephen Thrower, author of Nightmare USA and Murderous Passions: The Delirious Cinema of Jesús Franco
  • Stills gallery
  • Theatrical trailer

COLLECTION II

LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS

• High definition digital transfers of all films prepared by the Rainer Werner Fassbinder Foundation
• High Definition (1080p) Blu-rayTM presentations of all films
• Original uncompressed PCM mono 1.0 sound for all films
• Optional English subtitles for all films
• Exclusive 140-page collectors booklet containing archive articles and new writing by Deborah Allison, Geoff Andrew, Margaret Deriaz and Travis Miles.

DISC ONE – FEAR EATS THE SOUL
• Audio commentary by critic and lecturer Mark Freeman
• My Name is Not Ali, Viola Shafik’s 2011 feature-length documentary on the life and death of El Hedi ben Salem, star of Fear Eats the Soul
• Interview with director of photography Jürgen Jürges
• Theatrical trailer

DISC TWO – EFFI BRIEST
• Audio commentary by Ken Moulden
• Interview with actor Ulli Lommel
• Interview with director of photography Jürgen Jürges
• Theatrical trailer

DISC THREE – FOX AND HIS FRIENDS & CHINESE ROULETTE
• Audio commentary by Hamish Ford on Fox and His Friends
• Interview with actor Ulli Lommel on Chinese Roulette
• Original theatrical trailers for both films

DISC FOUR – THE MARRIAGE OF MARIA BRAUN
• Life, Love & Celluloid, a 1998 feature-length documentary on Fassbinder, written and directed by his regular editor, Juliane Lorenz
• Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1977, a candid 30-minute interview with the director
• The Fassbinder Family, featurette detailing the actors who worked with Fassbinder time and again throughout his career

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