mritunjay-sharma
11th October 2016

Revisiting: Beware of a Holy Whore

Mritunjay Sharma reinterprets Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s classic

Rainer Werner Fassbinder belongs to the most prolific of the European directors. He made 40 feature films in the time period of around 13 years, which is a statement that suggests the kind of genius he was. In a list assembled by Fassbinder, Beware of a Holy Whore was listed at the top.

Beware of a Holy Whore is a film about film-making. It is a docu-drama style self-critiques of Fassbinder on his behind the scenes techniques, based on the experiences of his film Whity, which was shot in Spain. Lou Castel played the role of self-contained, bisexual and alcoholic director, wearing a leather jacket, the traits of none other than Fassbinder himself.

Although, the same area was touched upon by Godard in Contempt which is about the agony of making a film, Truffaut in Day for night about the joy of making film. But Beware of a Holy Whore is a film about the agony of not making a film.

Filmmaking is a tedious process and to make a film from conception to screening, takes lots of time and patience. The whole process is depicted in an extremely monotonous way with the constant grilling of characters in various scenarios. The monotony is also set by the wait of the director to arrive to the set, then the wait for the film material, then the wait of the inspirations and then just waiting for something to happen.

This film is a reminder of the fact that film is nothing but a synthetic representation of life. We try to mimic life through this process, sometimes we pass and sometimes we fail. We fail because the people who are tools to mimic this life i.e. the actors and the technicians are not in sync with each other. Throughout the film the whole cast and crew are going through a psychosexual duel, creative blocks and impatience. They keep on hopping from one identity to another, like they do before and after the shout of action on the film set.

The first shot of the film is an intriguing one as in the whole shot the camera is placed at a waist level and a monologue is delivered by Deiter about Goofy the cartoon, who teaches kindergarten, gets beaten up by his students, meets Wee Willy, a gangster who is a dwarf, takes the crook home, and feeds him.

Though the police arrest Wee Willy, Goofy refuses to accept that his new friend is less than perfect.  Deiter does not have a significant role in the film, but his presence and absence again shows the continuous nature of life, how people come and go from the life. How we feel connected to them in the beginning but with the progression we move on and finds another adventure.

The film ends with the quote from Thomas Mann:“And I say to you that I am weary to death of depicting humanity without partaking of humanity”. The statement appropriate the life of Fassbinder, the life where he continuously churned out cinema of great meaning, of complex relations and desperate characters and the life with a leather jacket, drugs and Cuba Libre.


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