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PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
Fear of Fear (Angst vor der Angst) (1975)

Fear of Fear (Angst vor der Angst) (1975)

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Released 12-Mar-2008

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Featurette-Fassbinder in Hollywood: a documentary by Robert Fischer
Booklet-Fear of Fear, an essay by Justin Vicari
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1975
Running Time 88:11
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Madman Entertainment
Starring Margit Carstensen
Ulrich Faulhaber
Brigitte Mira
Irm Hermann
Armin Meier
Adrian Hoven
Kurt Raab
Ingrid Caven
Lilo Pempeit
Helga Maerthesheimer
Herbert Steinmetz
Hark Bohm
Constanze Haas
Case Amaray-Transparent-S/C-Dual
RPI $59.95 Music Peer Raben

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame German Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Fear of Fear is the third film in Madman Entertainment's, Directors Suite label box set, On Melodrama. Unlike the first two features in the box set, Effi Briest and Martha, this film is more a homage to the Alfred Hitchcock suspense thrillers of the 1950s rather than the Douglas Sirk films that Sirk did for Universal Pictures.

    Margot (played by the same lead actress for Martha, Margit Carstensen) is pregnant with her second child. Once she has the baby boy, she finds that she can't cope with the anxiety of raising her children. She feels conflict from the husband's family, her mother-in-law (played by Brigitte Mira, the lead actress of Ali: Fear Eats the Soul) and her sister-in-law (played by Fassbinder regular Irm Hermann) and their expectations of her role in supporting her family. She seeks to alleviate her problems by turning to valium, alcohol, and her local doctor but this doesn't seem to help. The movie is similar to the Hitchcock films of the 1950s in that no reason is given why Margot acts this way. Her husband (played by Ulrich Faulhaber) is gentle and supportive of Margot's illness, while we never quite get who the character Herr Bauer (Kurt Raab) is, the one that Margot labels as crazy. (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) Even when Herr Bauer commits suicide at the end of the film you wonder if he was real or a figment of Margot's imagination all along and if so, does Bauer's death mean that Margot is on the road to recovery?

    Fear of Fear is another 'woman's picture', a term to signify a drama presented from the lead actress' point of view. This is similar to Effi Briest and Martha, in fact Fassbinder did a lot of films using this theme. The term 'woman's picture' was first used to describe Douglas Sirk's films for Universal Pictures. (E.g. Magnificent Obsession, All that Heaven Allows, Inherit the Wind, Imitation of Life to name a few.)

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Transfer Quality


This film, like the previous film in the On Melodrama box set, was made for a television release. It was shot with 16mm cameras, as a result the transfer is slightly soft and at times grainy.

The aspect ratio is 1:33:1, the standard fullscreen ratio for television viewing in the 1970s.

The film's image is sharp if comparing it to films released in the 1970s.

Colour is vibrant, it looks similar to the Martha release found on the box set.

There are no significant compression issues, maybe a minor one here and there on certain scenes as the film takes up about 3.8 gb of disc space on the DVD with an average bitrate of 5.86 m/b per sec (Slightly lower than the other two films, Effi Briest and Martha). There are very few minor artefacts that pop-up briefly from time-to-time, alas fewer than Martha . For a film that was a television release from the mid-1970s, this transfer is outstanding overall, the only significant artefacts I noticed were some black artefacts at 3:02, 17:53 and 40:22 and a black line across the image at 2:17. By the way, the end credits are not an example of telecine wobble present on the transfer, rather the end credits move from side-to-side as part of the theme of the film, insanity. This 'wobble' effect is used brilliantly throughout the film to express this theme.

Subtitles are optional, but they are a bold yellow colour, a softer yellow colour would have been better.

There is no RSDL change as the main feature has been put onto the first layer of the DVD.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


The sound quality is very good, there is no discernible hiss or distortion of audio.

There are a single audio track, a German Dolby Digital 2.0 mono track encoded at 224 kbps.

Dialogue is clear throughout, there are no audio synchronisation issues present.

Music is used on the soundtrack much more than was the case on Martha. The music is also in the style of Bernard Herrmann's scores that he did for Alfred Hitchcock on his thriller-themed films of the 1950's. The music plays a significant role in emphasising the theme of insanity.

As this is presented with the original German mono track, there is no surround channel usage from the speakers.

The Subwoofer is also not utilised.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Featurette - Fassbinder in Hollywood: a documentary by Robert Fischer (57:06)

This is a documentary produced by Robert Fischer. It includes interviews with Wim Wenders, Michael Ballhaus, Uli Lommell and Hanna Schygulla. The documentary speculates on Fassbinder's possible career development after his international period from 1978 to 1981, was he planning to go to Hollywood? If so, what would have happened? We can't know because Fassbinder did in 1982, but Wenders and Ballhaus do credit Fassbinder in allowing them a foot in the door to work in Hollywood themselves in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Booklet - Fear of Fear, an essay by Justin Vicari

This is an extensive, ornate essay on the themes of the film. Vicari discusses the conflict of madness and death found in the picture, as well as the pressure of Margot's mother-in-law and sister-in-law who spy and comment on everything Margot does (the film present a lot of voyeuristic shots similar to Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window). Read this booklet to supplement your understanding of the film after you have viewed it. It is a very informative and insightful read.

Trailer (2:11)

A Directors Suite trailer for La Strada by Federico Fellini.

Trailer (2:20)

A Directors Suite trailer for Land of Plenty by Wim Wenders.

Trailer (1:50)

A Directors Suite trailer for Life is a Miracle by Emir Kusturica.

Trailer (1:59)

A Directors Suite trailer for Mystery Train by Jim Jarmusch.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

This film has been released as a standalone DVD only in Region 1 (USA). In other regions it has been included with Martha as an extra or it has been included amongst a suite of films in a box set, such as the Region 2 release (United Kingdom). In summary Fear of Fear is presented:

In Region 1 (USA) as a standalone release with a booklet containing an essay by Thomas Elsaesser and a filmographies extra.

In Region 2 (The Netherlands) as an extra on the film Martha and a 19-minute interview with cinematographer Michael Ballhaus.

In Region 2 (United Kingdom) as part of a box set with the films Fear Eats The Soul, Effi Breist, Fox And His Friends, Mother Küsters Goes To Heaven, Satan’s Brew , Chinese Roulette and The Marriage of Maria Braun. This box set includes the same documentary found in Region 4, another documentary on Fassbinder's life : Life Stories: A Conversation with Rainer Werner Fassbinder , an interview with Todd Haynes, an interview with Fassbinder from 1977, a featurette on the women in Fassbinder's films: Fassbinder Frauen – The Women of Rainer Werner Fassbinder and two short films from Fassbinder from the mid-1960s: The City Tramp and The Little Chaos.

In Region 2 (Germany) as an extra on the film Martha and a 19-minute interview with cinematographer Michael Ballhaus..

In Region 4 (Australia) with the documentary Fassbinder in Hollywood and a booklet. All the releases use the same transfer released by the Rainer Werner Fassbinder Foundation. In my opinion, the Region 4 release with other extras bundled with the films Effi Briest and Martha (e.g. expert audio commentaries, an interview with Karlheinz Boehm, the documentary by Michael Fischer and a 30 page booklet containing an academic essay on each film in the box set) is the best option for Region 4 collectors.


This film is not as bleak as Martha, nor does it require an appreciation of a classic German novel to better understand it like Effi Briest. This may be why Directors Suite included audio commentaries for those two films. Fear of Fear is an interesting homage to Alfred Hitchcock which stands apart in its style in relation to other films on the box set On Melodrama. The box set overall represents excellent value for fans of Fassbinder's cinema.

Ratings (out of 5)


© John Stivaktas (I like my bio)
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S550, using HDMI output
DisplaySamsung LA46A650 46 Inch LCD TV Series 6 FullHD 1080P 100Hz. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderSony STR-K1000P. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationSony HTDDW1000
SpeakersSony 6.2 Surround (Left, Front, Right, Surround Left, Surround Back, Surround Right, 2 subwoofers)

Other Reviews NONE