Watch Katzelmacher

  • NR
  • 1969
  • 1 hr 28 min
  • 6.9  (3,063)

Katzelmacher is a black and white German film from 1969 that explores themes of societal norms, gender roles, and xenophobia. Written and directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, the film features a group of friends who live in a working-class neighborhood in Munich. At the center of the story is Jorgos (played by Fassbinder himself), a Greek immigrant who has recently arrived in Germany. Jorgos is the catalyst for the characters' questioning of their own relationships and their ideas of what is "normal." His presence disrupts the established routine of the group, exposing their prejudices and insecurities.

The title of the film derives from the derogatory term "Katzelmacher," which roughly translates to "tomcat" or "womanizer." It is a slur that the characters use to describe Jorgos, portraying him as a predatory figure. However, Jorgos is mostly docile and introverted, leading the audience to question why the characters project their fears and prejudices onto him.

As the film progresses, the characters' relationships become more strained. The women in the group, including Helga (Hanna Schygulla) and Elisabeth (Lilith Ungerer), turn their attention to Jorgos, each carrying different agendas. Helga, who is in a stagnant relationship with her boyfriend Paul (Rudolf Waldemar Brem), is drawn to Jorgos' exoticism and blunt honesty. Elisabeth, on the other hand, is looking for a way to escape her abusive relationship with her husband.

The characters' interactions with Jorgos lead to moments of tension, violence, and introspection. Fassbinder's camera lingers on the characters' faces, capturing their inner turmoil as they struggle to come to terms with their prejudices and desires. The dialogue is sparse but impactful, revealing a society deeply ingrained in gender roles and xenophobia.

One of the strengths of Katzelmacher is Fassbinder's use of setting to convey the characters' socioeconomic status. The film takes place in a cramped and dirty apartment complex, with the characters often gathered on a balcony overlooking a desolate concrete landscape. The oppressive nature of their environment further highlights their struggles in breaking free from societal norms.

Overall, Katzelmacher is a thought-provoking film that raises questions about gender, power, and identity. Fassbinder's use of a non-professional cast adds to the documentary-like feel, immersing the audience in the characters' world. The film's themes remain relevant, making it a seminal work of the New German Cinema movement of the 1960s and 70s.

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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 28 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.9  (3,063)