Beware of a Holy Whore (Warnung vor einer heiligen Nutte) (Directors Suite) (1971)

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Released 18-Feb-2009

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Audio Commentary-by Dr. Adrian Martin, Senior Research Fellow, Monash Uni.
Booklet-16 page insert essay by Justin Vicari
Short Film-City Tramp (9:22 - Black & White)
Short Film-The Little Chaos (11:27 - Black & White)
Trailer-Directors Suite Trailers
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1971
Running Time 99:32 (Case: 86)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (64:40) Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Lou Castel
Eddie Constantine
Marquard Bohm
Hanna Schygulla
Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Margarethe von Trotta
Hannes Fuchs
Marcella Michelangeli
Karl Scheydt
Ulli Lommel
Kurt Raab
Herb Andress
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $34.95 Music Peer Raben


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame German Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary 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

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Plot Synopsis

    Rainer Werner Fassbinder was an idiosyncratic personality who died young (aged 37) and lived hard. In his native Germany he courted controversy with his anti-establishment views, his liberal sexuality, his drug-taking and his treatment of people close to him. Despite this, Fassbinder was a prolific director and writer who made over 40 films in 15 years. Early in his career he would complete 4 to 5 films a year in order to attract government funding for his next project.

    Beware of a Holy Whore is a parody of Fassbinder's movie-making experience in Spain while he was shooting his spaghetti western, Whity. There are 25 speaking roles in this film, and as such it presents those characters in a superficial way because the 100 minute running time of the film does not allow enough time to fully develop some of the more interesting minor characters. These minor characters are symbolic of real-life people who were part of Fassbinder's acting entourage at the time, some Fassbinder treated abusively while others, such as Hanna Schygulla, he treated with complete respect. Interestingly, about 12 of the 25 acting parts are played by directors or future directors.

    Because this film is about the making of a movie it has often been compared to Jean-Luc Godard's Contempt, Federico Fellini's 8 1/2 and Francois Truffaut's Day for Night. I would venture to say that Beware of a Holy Whore is different from those films, due in part to the influence that the character Jeff (played by Lou Castel - who also wears Fassbinder's iconic black leather jacket throughout the film) plays in the movie. Since Jeff is so obviously a caricature of Fassbinder himself, it is quite amazing to see how he mistreats some members of his cast and crew and how he treats the French actor playing himself, Eddie Constantine. The ex-girlfriend, for example, that Jeff beats in a violent scene is based on Fassbinder's wife at the time, Irm Herrman. Also, despite been married, it didn't stop Fassbinder from having other relationships with both men and women, something that we see Jeff also doing in Beware of a Holy Whore.

    Of course, the Holy Whore referenced in the title does mean the cinema and it is a deliberate pun at how movie-making can be both beautiful and repugnant at the same time. In this film art does imitate real life and by the end of the movie the audience is left wondering which scenes are part of the film Jeff is making and which scenes are about the process of the film that Jeff is making. This is just another example of Fassbinder's tongue-in-cheek humour that is manifest in this film. Interestingly, when Fassbinder was asked to nominate his ten most favourite films (of his own work) in 1982, shortly before his death, he nominated this film as his favourite.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer looks like it is the same one used for the Wellspring Region 1 release which was remastered by the Rainer Werner Foundation under the guidance of Juliane Lorenz and Wim Wenders.

    The aspect ratio is full frame 1:33:1. Obviously, it is not 16x9 enhanced for widescreen televisions.

    Overall, the film does look sharp, however, there are instances of low level noise in scenes where characters are predominately dressed in darker colours. These occur at 14:48 - 15:00, 16:14, 21:39 - 21:46, 29:00 - 29:43, 40:41 - 41:34 and 82:04 - 83:12. There is also some very slight aliasing at 36:37, 36:49, 36:52 and 79:05.

    With the new transfer colours are rendered more boldly, primary colours really stand out against the white background of the walls of the hotel, especially in the first half of the film.

    There is only one major film artefact present. This is a yellow line that appears across the image at 5:52.

    Subtitles are generously provided by Madman Entertainment in yellow or white, but only for the film, not for Dr Martin's audio commentary.

    The RSDL change occurs at 64:40. It is not noticeable because it occurs during a scene transition.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The Region 1 release of this film contains a remastered Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. I feel that a film of this type does not require a 'bumped-up' audio transfer, because although the film does use songs in the soundtrack, the film relies mainly on it's dialogue to convey it's meaning.

    There are two audio tracks. One is in German and the other is the English audio commentary track. Both are Dolby Digital 2.0 mono tracks encoded at 224 kbps.

    Dialogue is clear and precise. The audio is synchronised throughout.

    Fassbinder references songs by Leonard Cohen, Ray Charles and Elvis Presley in the film. These are also diegetic references, i.e. they play from within sources in the film, in this case a jukebox. Also, Fassbinder doesn't play edited portions of these songs, he uses the complete songs throughout the film.

    There is no surround channel usage because both soundtracks are mono.

    The subwoofer is also not utilised.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Audio Commentary by Dr. Adrian Martin, Senior Research Fellow, Film and Television Studies, Monash University

This is another excellent commentary from Dr Martin for Madman's Directors suite label. The commentary is engaging and on-going, there are virtually no pauses. Dr Martin discusses the background of the film, the characters and who they are based on, the songs used, the cinematography, Eddie Constantine and Hanna Schygulla, the contrast in pacing and editing between the two halves of the film, the symbolic use of mirrors and especially the role of Fassbinder himself in the film. This audio commentary is comprehensive. It is an invaluable insight into the history of the film, in relation to Fassbinder's career up to that point and what it is about.

Booklet - an essay by Justin Vicari

Justin Vicari has provided other essays for films by Fassbinder that have been released by Madman's Directors Suite label, notably, Effi Briest, Fear of Fear and Ali: Fear Eats the Soul. This essay provides more information on the era in which the film was made, looking at Fassbinder's anti-establishment theatre group and how it influenced this film. The booklet, including photos, is sixteen pages in length.

Short Film - City Tramp (9:22)

Made in 1966, Fassbinder's second film is shot in black and white stars the film's financial backer, Christoph Roser as a tramp who finds a gun in a street but doesn't know what to do with it. The film has some interesting experimentation with sound.

Short Film - The Little Chaos (11:27)

This film was also financed by Christoph Roser and it was made in 1967. It is an ode to American gangster films and it also stars Fassbinder and Marite Geiselis. The influence of American gangster films and the work of Jean-Luc Godard in this film would later be seen in Fassbinder's later films such as Love is Colder Than Death, Gods Of the Plague and The American Soldier.

Directors Suite Trailers

The DVD includes trailers for Directors Suite releases The American Friend by Wim Wenders, The Child by brothers Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne, The Science of Sleep by Michel Gondry and Tristram Shandy: A Cock & Bull Story by Michael Winterbottom.

R4 vs R1

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

    Beware of a Holy Whore has been released in Region 1 in the United States with an upgraded Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, a filmography of the main actors and an essay by Thomas Elsaesser entitled: The Films of Rainer Werner Fassbinder: A Cinema of Vicious Circles.

    The film has also been released in Region 2 in Germany with a stills gallery, a text-based biography and a trailer and in the Netherlands with a trailer and a 30 minute documentary: RW Fassbinder in 1977.

    The Directors Suite Region 4 release, with an audio commentary by Dr. Adrian Martin and an essay by Justin Vicari represents the best version of Beware of a Holy Whore on DVD.

Summary

    This is another excellent release by Directors Suite, replete with many quality extras. Although Fassbinder considered it to be his best cinematic work, it's more personal than his later more recognised films such as Ali: Fear Eats the Soul and The Marriage of Maria Braun. If you are a fan of world cinema, or are familiar with Fassbinder's work, than this would be a film well worth viewing.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© John Stivaktas (I like my bio)
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S550 (Firmware updated Version 019), 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)

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