Despair (Despair - Eine Reise ins Licht)

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Reviews Counted: 23

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Average Rating: 3.7/5

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Movie Info

Having made as many films as he had years, at 31, Rainer Werner Fassbinder essayed a slightly different approach for his 32nd film, Despair. Here, he uses a witty screenplay written by the well-known playwright Tom Stoppard, based on a novel by Vladimir Nabokov. Furthermore, the entire film, set in 1930s Germany, is in English. It received mixed reviews, if only because it is so unlike the director's other works. In the story, a Russian owner of a German chocolate-factory, whose business and marriage are both on the rocks, fantasizes about leaving his current life, and living another one. Indeed, he has delusions that he is somehow outside himself, watching himself live his life. So strong is his desire to alter his life that when he encounters a tramp while on a brief business trip, he imagines that the man looks exactly like him, decides to exchange identities with the tramp, and murders him. ~ Clarke Fountain, Rovi


Dirk Bogarde
as Hermann Herman
Andrea Ferreol
as Lydia Herman
Klaus Lowitsch
as Felix Weber
Peter Kern
as Muller
Ingrid Caven
as Hotel Receptionist
Liselotte Eder
as Secretary
Y Sa Lo
as Elsie
Hark Bohm
as Doktor
Roger Fritz
as Inspector Braun
Adrian Hoven
as Inspector Schelling
Gottfried John
as Perebrodov
Armin Meier
as 1st and 2nd Twin and Foreman
Hans Zander
as Muller's Brother
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Critic Reviews for Despair (Despair - Eine Reise ins Licht)

All Critics (23) | Top Critics (8)

Dirk Bogarde, looking natty and nerve-worn, is exactly right as the fissured Hermann, a chocolate manufacturer whose business has turned bitter.

Mar 18, 2015 | Full Review…

The first half is oppressive, cluttered, and funny, but as the film forsakes its artificial settings for more open spaces, it becomes pale and mechanical.

Mar 18, 2015 | Full Review…

Fassbinder films life in the cosseted class as a masque of glass and mirrors, replete with alluring deceptions and suave surfaces that belie volcanic passions.

Feb 27, 2012 | Full Review…

A superb surrealist noir.

Jan 5, 2012 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Effortlessly literate [and] gaudily stylish.

Jan 5, 2012 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
Time Out
Top Critic

Despite a witty, albeit theatrical, script by Tom Stoppard, prolific German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder does not quite bring off the spirited linguistic innovations, wit and penetrating insights of Vladimir Nabokov's novel.

Mar 26, 2009 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Despair (Despair - Eine Reise ins Licht)

Despair is a fun and absurd feature. The filmmaking is reminiscent of Bunuel, especially the upfront symbolic imagery, yet the style is distinctly playful, both camera work and acting.

Robert Brogan
Robert Brogan

Super Reviewer


As Fassbinder's first film in English, this psychedelic drama may have an intriguing story but the direction is heavy-handed and lacks that conviction found in his earlier works. Especially the tone he adopts seems incompatible with the kind of story he wants to tell.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

Personally, I think this is one of Bogarde's finest roles.

Stefanie C
Stefanie C

Super Reviewer

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