Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Rainer Werner Fassbinder

As his final film, Fassbinder visualises his own rendition of Jean Genet’s Querelle de Brest (1947). A heady story of sex, sexuality and murder. As the sailor, Querelle (Brad Harris), arrives on shore in the port town of Brest, drama ensues. He meets his brother, Robert (Hanno Poschl), who he has a love-hate relationship with, in a brothel run by Lysiane (Jenne Moreau), who is also his brother’s lover. For any man who wants to sleep with Lysiane, they must throw dice with her husband, Nono (Gunther Kaufmann). If they win, Lysiane is theirs. If they lose, they are Nono’s.

As well as promiscuity, the film is ridden with violence. Primarily created by Querelle and Gil (also played by Poschl), a man with strong similarities to the protagonist’s brother. And, when the pair meet in the final chapter of the film they both create a strong bond, recalling Lysiane’s first statement to Robert, that the brothers love one another more than they’d like to think so. 

As the whole film heaps with both violent and sexual tension, it should only seem fitting that it is almost entirely bathed in hues of hot orange. The set feels miniscule, where every action taken by the characters is always seen by a voyeur. In fact, instances of the homoerotic gaze reoccur throughout the story. Finally, the most interesting aspect of the film is to see Genet’s understanding of homosexuality in the 1940s combined with Fassbinder’s in the 1980s, which exposes an intriguing chapter of gay history. 

 

Querelle
director RAINER WERNER FASSBINDER
year 1982
director of photography XAVER SCHWARZENBERGER
cast BRAD DAVIS, FRANCO NERO, JEANNE MOREAU, LAURENT MALET and HANNO PÖSCHL

 

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