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Effi Briest (Fontane Effi Briest)

Effi Briest
Scene from "Fontane Effi Briest" (photo © Fassbinder Foundation/photo courtesy of Stiftung Deutsche Kinemathek/Filmmusem Berlin)

Seventeen-year-old Effi Briest is married to Baron von Innstetten, a man twenty years her senior. Effi is lonely in her new hometown, a small resort on the Baltic Sea coast. She is unhappy, even if she doesn’t want to admit it, because she doesn’t really feel loved by her stern and ambitious husband. Then she starts an affair with Major Crampas – one of her husband’s acquaintances – more so out of a longing for warmth than for passion. However, the affair comes to an end with the Innstettens move to Berlin. Six years later, the Baron discovers that his wife had an affair and challenges Crampas to a duel.


Rainer Werner Fassbinder was born in 1945 and died in 1982. He was one of the most significant directors of the “New German Cinema”. In just 13 years, between 1969 and 1982, he made 44 films, including Katzelmacher (1969), The Merchant of Four Seasons (Der Haendler der vier Jahreszeiten, 1971), The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (Die bitteren Traenen der Petra von Kant, 1972), Fear Eats the Soul (Angst essen Seele auf, 1973), Fontane Effi Briest (1974), Despair (1978), The Marriage of Maria Braun (Die Ehe der Maria Braun, 1979), Berlin Alexanderplatz (1980), Lili Marleen (1981), Lola (1981), and Querelle (1982), among others. He wrote 14 plays, revised six others and directed 25. He wrote four radio plays and 37 screenplays and worked on a further 13 scripts with other writers. Fassbinder's films are among the most valid social documents produced between the late 60s and early 80s in Germany; his plays are among the most performed of any post-war German dramatist.
Genre Drama
Category Feature
Year of Production 1974
Director Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Screenplay Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Cinematography Jürgen Jürges, Dietrich Lohmann
Thea Eymèsz
Cast Barbara Valentin, Rudolf Lenz, Hark Bohm, Herbert Steinmetz, Lilo Pempeit, Irm Hermann, Ursula Straetz, Ulli Lommel, Karlheinz Boehm, Wolfgang Schenck, Hanna Schygulla, Karl Scheydt
Producer Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Production Company Tango Film/Munich
Length 141 min
Format 35 mm, b&w
Original Version
 German
Subtitled Versions Danish, English, French, Italian, Spanish
Sound Technology Mono
Festivals Berlin 1974, Istanbul 2007, Moscow 2015, Shanghai 2017
Awards Otto-Dibelius-Prize Berlin 1974

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