Surrealistic adaptation of Nabokov's is both experimental and oddly poised. From a highly cerebral Stoppard script, Fassbinder propels his film forward using the unsettling staging of his actors and the lushly beautiful work of cinematographer, Michael Ballhaus. The cinematic metaphor is rather clunky, but effective. As the Nazis assume power over Germany a successful chocolate maker begins to slip into existential delusions and the film slips into a mix of psychodrama and film noir. Somehow this experiment works. Dirk Bogarde is especially effective in the lead role. I had read a great deal about this film over the years and agree that DESPAIR was a departure for Fassbinder, but it is firmly rooted in what I would call Fassbinderian Language.