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THIRD GENERATION (Dritte Generation, Die) (director/writer: Rainer Werner Fassbinder; cinematographer: Rainer Werner Fassbinder; editor: Juliane Lorenz; music: Peer Raben; cast: Volker Spengler (August Brem), Bulle Ogier (Hilde Krieger), Hanna Schygulla (Susanne Gast), Harry Baer (Rudolf Mann), Vitus Zeplichal (Bernhard von Stein), Udo Kier (Edgar Gast), Margit Carstensen (Petra Vielhaber), Eddie Constantine (Peter Lurz), Raúl Gimenez (Paul), Günther Kaufmann (Franz Walsch), Y Sa Lo (Ilse Hoffmann); Runtime: 111; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Rainer Werner Fassbinder; Video Search of Miami; 1979-West Germany-in German with English subtitles)
“A must see for its underlying reasoning.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Rainer Werner Fassbinder presents a cheeky satire loaded with perverse humor as it tells of the anxieties of a middle-class terrorist cell in contemporary Berlin. The film’s theme was noted in an interview Fassbinder gave to a Frankfurt newspaper where he said “in the last analysis terrorism is an idea generated by capitalism to justify better defense measures to safeguard capitalism.” Sounds much like what W. has done in Amerika since 9/11. It seems to be working, as a gullible public doesn’t seem too concerned he took away basic liberties guaranteed by the Constitution (like having a judge issue warrants instead of doing it on your own for wiretaps).

Fassbinder does the comedy drama in six acts and trots out his regular stock company, and throws into the mix noted French actor Eddie Constantine and French actress Bulle Ogier. It’s Fassbinder’s intention to show how the terrorists are playing into the repressive West German state’s hands by lacking any understanding of how they are being used to keep the totalitarian regime growing in power and alienating the masses as it keeps the public in fear and in need of a false ‘law and order.’ Fassbinder is calling out the terrorists because they have no more goals, no utopia and have lost the sense of despair other terrorists may have had. He calls these moderns the Third Generation. The first generation was that of the idealists of ’68 who wanted to make the world better. The second generation was the Baader-Meinhof Group who went from legality to armed struggle and total illegality. The third generation is of today and acts without thinking, has no policy or ideology, and is easily manipulated by others. They are the descendents of the German bourgeoisie from 1848 to 1933. They are the inheritors of what their grandfathers lived through during the Third Reich and their fathers in postwar Germany, who squandered their new freedom (the most a German ever had) to seek a consumerist society and ignore how limiting the government became.

The subversives in the Berlin terrorist cell are led by the sneaky Volker Spengler, the nasty Raúl Gimenez and the cowardly Harry Baer. The chicks are in secondary positions and include the obedient Bulle Ogier, the drug addict Y Sa Lo and the spunky business secretary Hanna Schygulla. They spout anti-capitalist rhetoric, quote from Schopenhauer’s book “The World as Will and Idea,” write political graffiti on toilet walls, take heroin, rob a bank, get in a shootout with the police and get their info from watching TV and listening to the radio. It’s all meant to be entertainment that mixes in politics with what’s going down at the time, as if it were film noir but set in a realistic Germany that’s growing more repressive each day. Eddie Constantine is the business executive who is taken hostage by this terrorist group when they are dressed as clowns and is videotaped to scare the public.

It’s ugly, messy, dissonant, distasteful but, nevertheless, it’s a must see for its underlying reasoning.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”