Let the oddness begin!
Written By: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Directed By: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Sometimes when I watch a movie with the intention of reviewing it I end up with a copious amount of notes. Other times I end up with very little notes, then there is Der Amerikanische Soldat, a movie where I only jotted down two tiny notes. It’s not that Der Amerikanische Soldat didn’t cause me to think, it’s exactly that reason that I didn’t take down many notes. It has been a long time since I have seen a movie as odd and yet as appealing as Der Amerikanische Soldat and it left me at a loss as to what needed to be jotted down on my notepad.
Der Amerikanische Soldat doesn’t really have anything to say, yet it says a lot. There isn’t a true cohesive story, there isn’t a semblance of a solid story for that matter. Der Amerikanische Soldat is a series of moments that add up to ideas being expressed by the director. The gangster element is always present, that is the root idea. Fassbinder uses the gangster motif to present a bevy of odd scenes and amalgamations of movie themes. In one moment he is presenting the idea that Ricky may be homosexual, then in the next Ricky appears to take in a woman just for the sake of washing the homosexuality off of himself. Later, Ricky visits his mother and not only do you get the vibe of incest from his awkward first brush up with his mother, but his brother out and out screams incest and homosexuality. This is later cemented by the rolling around on the floor slow motion ending shared by the two brothers, although Ricky isn’t exactly in any position to share whatever reasons his brother may have for rolling around with him.
I was sidetracked again, I do that, hopefully my few readers have learned to accept it. What I am trying to expound on is how Der Amerikanische Soldat is a series of ideas tossed at the screen. The possible homosexuality is accompanied by the cavalier nature that men treat women in Der Amerikanische Soldat. They appear to be powerless and at the mercy of everyone around them. It’s as if Fassbinder decided that he wanted to see what would work and what wouldn’t. This creates an interesting movie, I couldn’t help but be interested by what I was seeing. However, the lack of a true narrative combined with the absence of the viewer associating with the characters creates a distance in what you are seeing. I was interested by what was happening on my screen, but it was more of a scientific type of interest. I didn’t actually care about what was happening, I was interested to see where the story would go but at the same time I didn’t really care where it went. I hope that makes sense, but that’s the best way I can think of to describe both my amusement with Der Amerikanische Soldat as well as my slight apathy towards Der Amerikanische Soldat.
I wouldn’t classify Der Amerikanische Soldat as a great movie, although I do think it has a great splashed out black and white look, but it is an interesting movie to experience. This is only my second bout with Fassbinder, but I know I want to see more because Der Amerikanische Soldat was certainly interesting to the point where I want to see more by the director. Der Amerikanische Soldat may be a good film to start your viewing of Fassbinder with, or it may not be, I don’t really know. What I do know is that Der Amerikanische Soldat was interesting to watch, and sometimes that is more than enough to satisfy me.