Film Series / Events

Search All Film Series (1999-present)
Browse All Film Series

September 10 - September 11

World on a Wire by Rainer Werner Fassbinder

In the early 1970s, Rainer Werner Fassbinder became interested in American science-fiction writer Daniel F. Galouye's pulp novel Simulacron-3 (1964), but quickly realized that a faithful adaptation would require a running time of over three hours – an epic length only possible as a two-part television series which he successfully proposed to the German network WDR. Since its broadcast premiere in 1973, World on a Wire has remained virtually unseen in the US until the unveiling of a restoration of the film at last year's Berlin Film Festival – a spectacular new print supervised by the film's cinematographer Michael Ballhaus.

Saturday September 10 at 7pm
Sunday September 11 at 7pm

World on a Wire

Directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder. With Klaus Löwitsch, Barbara Valentin, Wolfgang Schenck
West Germany 1973, 35mm, color, 210 min. German with English subtitles

A conscious homage to Godard's Alphaville, Fassbinder's sole science fiction film is a vision of the future set in an alternate present, infused with the trappings of film noir – an embittered and embattled hero, femmes fatales and an overarching, fatalistic pessimism. The eerily prescient plot revolves around the creation of a computer, Simulacron, capable of generating an artificial world easily mistaken for reality. When Simulacron's inventor meets a mysterious demise, his colleague resolves to find out what lurks beneath the bland presence of the project's corporate funders. Populated by a cast of Fassbinder familiars, World on a Wire also features an audaciously complex mise en scene – décor alternating between the banal and the eccentric conjoins baroque camera movements and zooms. Building elliptically to a fever pitch of suspense and paranoia, the story revolves around the core preoccupations of many science fiction films in the wake of Kubrick's 2001: the question of the coexistence of humanity and technology. Print courtesy of Janus Films.

Browse Other Series from this Season
Return to Top
Harvard Film Archive • Carpenter Center • 24 Quincy Street • Cambridge MA 02138 • 617-495-4700