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
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.