Why Does Herr R. Run Amok? continues director Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s earlier fascination with suburban stagnation and dehumanisation, and the anonymity of the protagonist’s name is no coincidence. In fact, little of Fassbinder’s film is a coincidence – Herr R.’s job in architecture, for example, relates to his destiny, as he is left to draw up plans for other people. Kurt Raab, who resembles Fassbinder himself, carries his character’s burden without ever externalising his emotions. The shooting style and mise-en-scène are unusually naturalistic for a Fassbinder film, although this may be linked to the rumours that collaborator Michael Fengler was the film’s true director. The deliberate monotony might be trying for uninitiated viewers, but nonetheless there is a decent sense of humour in Why Does Herr R. Run Amok?, and it would make a complementary companion film to Once Upon A Time There Was A Singing Blackbird.
Wednesday, 4 August 2010
Herr R. is an architect’s draughtsman, and the breadwinner for his wife and son. We see him living a purely functional existence, only managing to catch precious few moments of social activity in between his obligations with his work and family. The story flashes between brief scenes in Herr R.’s day, the only anomaly being a macabre check-up with the doctor. Rather than observing, the viewer is invited into the scene through the movement of the camera, which positions itself as another character, turning to face each speaker. Herr R. is very rarely seen alone, giving the impression that he never catches a break.