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Merchant of Four Seasons, The (Haendler der vier Jahreszeiten, Der)

Merchant of Four Seasons, The
Scene from "The Merchant of Four Seasons" (photo courtesy of Filmmuseum Berlin/Deutsche Kinemathek)

Hans Epp signs up for the foreign legion in order to escape his loveless existence with his mother. When he returns, she greets him with the comment, “The best ones stay in, people like you come back.” Hans then works for the police department but is soon fired because he let himself be seduced by a prostitute at the station. He starts selling fruit in back courtyards. His “big love” refused to marry him because he was beneath her social status; his wife doesn’t really love him, but she loves to torture him. His only escape are his regular visits to the local bar. Watching his unexceptional life disintegrate and rejected to the point of a nervous breakdown, Hans systematically drinks himself to death before the eyes of his loved ones.


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 1971
Director Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Screenplay Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Cinematography Dietrich Lohmann
Thea Eymèsz
Kurt Raab
Cast Hans Hirschmueller, Irm Hermann, Hanna Schygulla, Andrea Schober, Gusti Kreissl, Kurt Raab, Klaus Loewitsch, Ingrid Caven, Karl Scheydt
Producer Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Production Company Tango Film/Munich for ZDF
Length 88 min
Format 35 mm, color
Original Version
 German
Subtitled Versions English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese
Sound Technology Optical
Awards 3 German Film Awards 1972

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