Love Is Colder Than Death
(Directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder(1969, 88 min)
Love is Colder than Death is the standout directorial debut of the infamous and prolific German auteur Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Directing a remarkable 44 films in his relatively short life — he was only 37 when he died — Fassbinder remains one of cinema’s most fearless and prodigious international icons.
Fassbinder co-stars as Franz, a low-level street tough and part-time pimp who rejects a job with a powerful mob called the Syndicate before scuttling back to Munich to shack up with his prostitute girlfriend Joanna. Soon, a mysterious old associate named Bruno shows up on the doorstep with a cold sober gaze and a penchant for crime, immediately falling in with the couple and joining them on an unhinged crime spree. As the trio continues to bond over bloodshed, the Syndicate and the police follow a tip and attempt to intervene before a daring bank heist ruins them all.
Cold, stark, and uncluttered, featuring long tracking shots and a fatal piercing silence, the film revels in the quiet space just outside the modern world, the time in-between one violent act and the next. Love is Colder than Death presents jarring minimalist cinematography and a bone-bare script that allows the actors to overwhelm the scenes with seamy stares and plumes of cigarette smoke.
An impressive debut and a classic New German Cinema, Love is Colder than Death marked Fassbinder as one of cinema’s most beloved agitators.