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Plot:

Franz Biberkopf has served four years in prison. His return to normal life is not successful. The thug Reinhold wants Biberkopf to join his gang. When that fails, Reinhold involves him against his will in a crime. While Franz protest to this, Reinhold pushes him out of the car. Franz is seriously injured and loses an arm. After his recovery, he works voluntarily for Reinhold. For a short time Franz lives a life of luxury.

Also Known As: Hampa, Berlin Alexanderplatz, Berlin-Alexanderplatz - Die Geschichte Franz Biberkopfs, Sur le pavé de Berlin, Berlin-Alexanderplatz, Berlin-Alexanderplatz: The Story of Franz Biberkopf

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  • zhou
    Zhou

    Where are subtitles

  • carl-augustsson
    carl augustsson

    “Berlin-Alexanderplatz – Die Geschichte Franz Biberkopfs” or just “Berlin-Alexanderplatz” is a German black-and-white film from 1931 and it is among the earliest sound movies from Germany. The director here is Phil Jutzi and a duo of writers adapted the novel by Alfred Döblin for the screen here. It is probably Döblin’s most known work and he was still very much alive back in the early 1930s to see this film. I wonder what he thought of it. It came out 2 years before the Nazis came into power, so this 90-minute movie has its 85th anniversary this year. The lead actor here is played by Heinrich George (father of Götz) who also starred in some of the Nazis’ most infamous propaganda films in years after this one and I must say he gave a pretty good performance. Unfortunately I must say that the story never really captured my interest. It is the tale of a man who gets released from prison and who afterward tries to adapt to life and society once again, but all kinds of factors (more exterior than interior, he really tries his best) always lead him to failure again. It was not a failure completely, but also not really interesting for the most part and I did not care a whole lot for Biberkopf or the other characters. Rainer Werner Fassbinder created a much more well-known mini series in the year 1980 and my overall verdict is that I prefer this one, even if it is a whole lot longer, which makes it almost impossible to compare these two achievements. As for the 1931 version, I do not recommend the watch.

  • isadora-peixoto
    isadora peixoto

    Franz Biberkopf reminds me of Frank Norris’s McTeague – a gentle giant of a man who is trying desperately to keep his passions under control. He has just been released from prison where he was sent for killing his wife in a drunken brawl. The short tram ride from the prison to his rooms is an eye-opener for Biberkopf, just a cacophony of noise, bustle, street scenes and to cap it all off, the fellow who was showing him around absconds with all his possessions. At the local bar he meets Cilly (Maria Bard) a prostitute connected with a street gang headed by Reinhold who has recruited Cilly to coax Biberkopf back to his criminal ways. He has vowed to go straight and now makes his living as a street vendor where his gift of the gab draws in the crowds.His temper and brute force (which is why Reinhold wants him) is simmering just below the surface as witnessed by a pub brawl where he has been goaded and jeered at because of his lowly and clean skinned occupation, and also, like McTeague, his fascination with the pub’s caged canary. There is also a realistic street fight in which Reinhold comes to the hapless pair’s (Franz and Cilly) rescue. Franz is eternally grateful, he doesn’t realise that the fight and rescue have been orchestrated by Cilly under Reinhold’s orders. It is just a small thing for the dim witted Franz to be coaxed into the rogue’s gang but during the first job it dawns on Franz that this is not a joy ride but a criminal activity, he panics and is thrown from the cab. He is then run over by an unsuspecting driver and wakes up in hospital minus an arm. I found the hospital and it’s greenery fascinating.Out of hospital he meets a new girl Mieze (Margarete Sclegal), a street singer, a decent girl who wants to keep Franz on the right road but Franz is despondent, he looks at his straight life and finds nothing is going for him, he yearns to return to crime. Heinrich George is just magnificent as slow witted Franz, turning into an embittered cripple who despairs of making an honest living. George was a proud member of the Communist Party who for some reason was coaxed into National Socialist sympathies. Initially classified as a “non desirable” actor because of his leftist leanings, he eventually became an actor of national importance in 1937.After a while the well planned robberies yield results which enable he and Mieze to live a better life but Reinhold also has his eye on Mieze and when she resists his advances after being lured into the woods he rapes and kills her. Cilly, meanwhile, has been undergoing a transformation and befriends Mieze and tries to put her wise about Franz’s so called “friends”. Walking from the court, where a paid eye witness has fingered Reinhold and convinced the police the rogue deserves a long sentence (15 years), Cilly gives Franz a pep talk, convincing him that his gift of the gab will more than make up for his incapacities and help him along the right path.”Berlin Alexanderplatz” came out in 1929 with a narrative style critics compared to James Joyce’s “Ulysses”. This 1931 film had a smooth translation, maybe because the original author, Alfred Doblin, worked on the screenplay adaptation.

  • phrantzeska-agne-simetopoulou
    phrantzeska agne simetopoulou

    Turning now to German films, it’s good to see Phil Jutzi’s Berlin Alexanderplatz available on an 8/10 Criterion DVD. Although I’d not go anywhere near so far as to say it’s one of the best films of 1931 (as do some critics), it’s certainly a powerful offering with Heinrich George in his element as the not-so-bright strong man who wants to go straight. Needless to say, his milieu defeats him. You can see this turn of events coming almost as soon as the movie springs into gear and this is a big weakness that even Jutzi’s vigorously on-the-spot direction cannot wholly diminish.Nonetheless, allied with the movie’s bleak, noirish photography, the movie certainly delivers a real punch. Excellent acting from just about everyone in the support cast helps too.

  • edgar-eftimie
    edgar eftimie

    “Berlin Alexanderplatz 1931” is available in a fairly clear version with optional English subtitles on youtube. The story, described in other reviews, is basically the sad experiences of one of Weimar Germany’s “kleine menschen”. Everything about this film is interesting – the acting, the scenes of Berlin in those days, even the musical score. Of course, the story is somewhat depressing, and it is hard to imagine sitting through the Fassbinder film – over fifteen hours of it – despite the rave reviews. I have not, and probably will not. Anyway, a film made closer to the time and place, just two years after the novel, will necessarily have certain qualities that would escape the most elegant remake possible.

  • teseo-vitale
    teseo vitale

    First film version of the classic German novel was written by the novels author and runs 83 minutes. (The classic TV version made by Fassbender runs close to 15 hours). Its the story of a man,Franz Biberkopfs, who gets out of prison who tries to go straight but who finds that life and the people around him have other plans.Its good but rather not very deep film about the difficulty of getting by in the world. The trouble is that seeing the film now, which is included in the recent DVD release by Criterion, we know that there is a great deal to the story which isn’t being covered. Granted its not fair to compare two version made roughly 50 years apart, but at the same time you can’t help but do it. The result, for me at least was I didn’t love it as I should have.Weakness in the compression of the story or not the real joy of the film are the scenes of the street life in Berlin since about half the film was shot on location. The street scenes alone make this a must see film.

  • joona-peltonen
    joona peltonen

    Döblin’s Berlin, Alexanderplatz is probably a not filmable book anyway. F.e. all the kaleidoscopic elements he has been using like ad slogans, newspaper articles, multiple points of view etc etc etc are really hard to transfer into a movie. Well, it’s expressionistic. And definitely outstanding. RW Fassbinder developed a 13-hour-series (plus a rather personal and debatable epilogue) from the material which imho was partly brilliant and partly awfully boring. Of course, the characters had much room to develop here. Whatever, it seems to have gained ‘cult’ status in some circles. This movie is quite the opposite. It has condensed the original story to a 90-minute-piece which works surprisingly well. Döblin helped with the script, the movie is fast-paced but gets the basic idea of the book. Or better, of it’s main character Biberkopf (and also his opponent Reinhold). So, I recommend watching this as at least a comparison to the RWF series. The shots of 1931 Berlin alone make it worthwhile, they add an ‘authentic’ effect and even Zeitgeist to it (the novel had been published just two years before). That was something the RWF version (shot in 1979) could never really provide.

  • jole-bianco
    jole bianco

    When one director needs over 15 hours to enact a novel, it is mathematically evident that you can pack less of a tenth of that in under 90 minutes. A tour de force, a highly compressed “reader’s digest” (but the novel’s author Alfred Döblin also collaborated on the movie script). And also, a “Heinrich George against the rest of the world” show, if you wish.Still, it sometimes takes a few seconds, in an otherwise tight plot, to linger on details that don’t “drive” the story, but maybe that’s why they stand out more in memory after watching this film. The scene where the just married couple walks from their carriage to the wedding party. Or when Reinhold drops his pen as Franz storms into his back room – that was strong cinematography in a split-second. Or the bathing scene at a lake, which has nothing to do with the personae, but offers a glimpse at a sign that proclaims triangular bathing trunks forbidden (the shape of bath-wear was indeed a hotly debated topic, up to the parliament, in 1930s’ Germany).And that scene instantly reminded me of the classic “Menschen am Sonntag” (1930, Billie Wilder, Fred Zinnemann, the Siodmak brothers and more, an early “independent” production which also features mass transit and lakeside bathing in Berlin). However, its story is harmless and relatively sweet. “Berlin – Alexanderplatz” in some way continues from there and shows deeper trouble in the big city, criminals, burglary, murder, the (not terribly strong) action of the law…Another detail that I enjoyed: outside the courtroom, witnesses discuss: “Did you take an oath? How?” – “Oh, only worldly” (i.e. omitting the religious part). – “Ah, then it’s OK”.The German Arthaus Collection/Spiegel DVD comes with an in-depth documentary on Heinrich George’s life, from communist to Nazi supporter to Soviet prisoner, with interviews with his two sons (Jan and Götz George), which I also found very worth watching.

  • avram-pop
    avram pop

    anagramm14 from Switzerland writes: “and there isn’t a single phone call in the plot”. – Well, actually there is a phone call, when Henschke, the bar keep, calls Cilly, who has gone uptown to the West, to inform her that Franz is back from the hospital.However, there is another observation to be made. Throughout the film You see – among the advertisements in general – beer advertisement for only one Berlin brewery: Berliner Kindl. It is remarkable in so far, as another brewery, Schultheiss, at that time one of the largest brewing companies worldwide, and located in Berlin, is completely absent from the images, which cannot possibly have happened by chance. Even today You cannot walk the street of Berlin for more than five minutes without passing a Schultheiss-sign. Another Berlin film of the same year (1931) which features extensive footage of the contemporary Berlin, Emil und die Detektive (Emil and the Detectives), shows also only Berliner Kindl beer ads, a fact that leads me to the theory, that Berliner Kindl had effectively placed their logo in important films of the time and saw to it, that their number one competitor, Schultheiss, was not visible.

  • rochelle-baker
    rochelle baker

    Located on disc 7, the extras disc, of the new Criterion Berlin Alexanderplatz set. This is well worth seeing if you’ve just gotten your way through the 15.5 hour version. There’s also a 23 minute long lecture on the original Alfred Döblin novel and its adaptations over the years that is a must-see, as it helps put it all into perspective. If not for the inevitable spoilers, I’d almost recommend watching that extra before you attempt either the film or the series. This original film, adapted with the help of the novelist, is apparently quite different from the novel, to which the Fassbinder series sticks pretty closely. The character of Franz Biberkopf is much more likable here. He’s still kind of dumb, but he’s not strictly to blame for the ills that befall him and those around him. This was because the star of the film, Heinrich George (Metropolis), probably didn’t want to be depicted as an unthinking jerk. It’s amazing that the writers are able to whittle the enormous plot into an 83 minute film, and for the most part, I was enjoying it. It’s just when the character of Mieze is introduced that it begins to fall apart. She just shows up too fast, and doesn’t have time to win the audience’s affection. She almost feels like an afterthought here. I did think Maria Bard was very good as Cilly (who is a composite of all of Biberkopf’s girlfriends up to Mieze, including Eva).

  • eduardo-simo-llabres
    eduardo simo llabres

    If you’ve read the book, this film version comes as a surprise – how does it manage to make so little of so much? Or is it so much of so little? Döblin co-authored the screenplay, which compresses his sprawling novel into a breathless eighty-eight minutes. Of course, much is sacrificed, but the skeleton plot still compares favourably to that of many modern movies. Technically, too, this flick has aged magnificently – considering this is one of the first German films with sound, what we see and hear is a lot smoother than I’d expected. The cinematography is astonishing by the standards of the decades that followed: there’s an opening sequence of our hero (played by Heinrich George, a huge bear of an actor) just out of jail, dizzied by the speed of a tram and the chaos of the surrounding traffic, which is almost as vertiginous as “Vertigo”. Reminds one that 1931 was the year of Fritz Lang’s “M”. Was film a more experimental art form then than it is now? It was also fascinating to see how modern the Berlin of seventy years ago still looks: true, the men have moustaches, and there are horses on the streets, and there isn’t a single phone call in the plot, and the actors don’t look like models, at least not all of them, thank goodness; but the villains could be straight from Hollywood, as could the fast cars, the glossy ads all over the buildings, the bars, the knee-length skirts and short bobs, and above all the sheer tempo of city life. It was a hugely enjoyable experience and gave me a better idea of the times my grandparents grew up in.