Effi Briest (Fontane Effi Briest) (1977)



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Movie Info

Rainer Werner Fassbinder's adaptation of a late 19th-century novel by Theodor Fontane is an austere period piece that may be the least characteristic of the German director's films. The titular heroine, played by Fassbinder regular Hanna Schygulla, is a 17-year-old girl forced into a loveless marriage with an old count. Living as the aristocrat's trophy wife, Effi endures her provincial existence unhappily. Her circumstances lead to a brief affair with a young lieutenant that attracts the attention of the townspeople, but not her unsuspecting husband's. Years later, however, the count discovers the love letters between his wife and her lover. As dictated by convention, he challenges the lieutenant to a duel and throws his wife out of their home. The shamed Effi is forced to live by herself, shunned by society and spurned by her family. Effi eventually returns to her unsympathetic parents, who reluctantly take in their disgraced daughter. ~ Elbert Ventura, Rovi


Hanna Schygulla
as Effi Briest
Ulli Lommel
as Maj. Crampas
Wolfgang Schenck
as Baron Geert Von Instetten
Karlheinz Böhm
as Wuellersdorf
Lilo Pempeit
as Frau Briest
Andorthe Braker
as Mrs. Pasche
Barbara Lass
as Polish Cook
Peter Gauhe
as Dagobert
Herbert Steinmetz
as Herr Briest
Irm Hermann
as Johanna
Rudolf Lenz
as Rummschuettel
Barbara Valentin
as Singer Marietta Tripelli
Hark Bohm
as Gieshuebler
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Critic Reviews for Effi Briest (Fontane Effi Briest)

All Critics (11) | Top Critics (3)

Filmed in black and white, with extraordinary delicacy and reserve, this is one of Fassbinder's best films.

Jan 26, 2006 | Full Review…
Time Out
Top Critic

It's visually beguiling -- its cameramen having found shades of gray between black and white I'm not sure I've seen before -- and it is performed by the Fassbinder stock company with the precision and style one seldom finds outside the legitimate theater.

May 20, 2003 | Rating: 4/5

The slow, deliberate pace is sometimes taxing, but this story of a 16-year-old girl locked in the boredom of a loveless marriage is perfectly suited to Fassbinder's stifling mise-en-scene.

Jan 1, 2000 | Full Review…

The best collaboration between Fassbinder and frequent star Schygulla, who delivers a truly affecting turn in the title role.

Aug 28, 2018 | Full Review…

It's so visually boring, insanely talkative, arrogantly formalistic.

Aug 4, 2015 | Full Review…

Compelling viewing for the delicate way it unfolds and leaves a tingling feeling there's a lot more going on than it seems.

May 15, 2006 | Rating: A | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Effi Briest (Fontane Effi Briest)

Gave up half way through, definitely not one of Fassbinder's best works.

Marcus Woolcott
Marcus Woolcott

Super Reviewer

Fassbinder directs this period piece with an impressive technical sophistication, something evident in the exquisite mise-en-scène and cinematography. And he finds in Fontane's criticism of society a perfect material to be adapted by him, although the result is a bit too long.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

My readers know that I am not usually a fan of period pieces but this one works well.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

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