Händler der vier Jahreszeiten (The Merchant of Four Seasons) (1971)

TOMATOMETER

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AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Der Händler der vier Jahreszeiten (The Merchant of Four Seasons) is about the deterioration of a man's soul. Fruit vendor Hans (Hans Hirschmüller) cannot please his family. His mother harps on his failures. His wife is openly discontent. He must peddle produce to his beloved ex-girlfriend, and he is mocked by his customers for being shorter and fatter than his wife. He is withdrawn, crushed, and humiliated. He turns to drinking and violence, but his rage causes his wife and daughter to leave him. While desperately begging for their return, Hans suffers a debilitating heart attack. His family comes back, but Hans is unable to work and must hire help for his fruit stand. Hans' first employee is his wife's ex-lover, whom he fires for embezzling. He then hires a friend and hero from his legionnaire days, Harry (Klaus Löwitsch), out of pity. Harry is hardworking, diligent, and clever. He turns Hans' business around and enlivens his home life. Harry's success also begins to displace Hans -- with his fruit stand, with his wife, and even with his child. Hans becomes useless, a nothing -- exactly what his mother, his wife, and those around him set him up to be. ~ Aubry Anne D'Arminio, Rovi
Rating:
NR
Genre:
Art House & International , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
On DVD:
Runtime:

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Cast

Irm Hermann
as Irmgard Epp
Hanna Schygulla
as First sister
Ingrid Caven
as The merchant's great love
Peter Chatel
as Doctor
Lilo Pempeit
as Customer
Harry Baer
as Candidate
Hark Bohm
as Policeman
Kurt Raab
as Brother-in-law
Daniel Schmid
as Candidate
Karl Scheydt
as Anzell
Elga Sorbas
as Marile Kosemund
Gusti Kreissl
as Mother
Walter Sedlmayr
as Fruit cart salesman
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Critic Reviews for Händler der vier Jahreszeiten (The Merchant of Four Seasons)

All Critics (14) | Top Critics (2)

This soggy picture allows the disintegration of a human being to be almost as dull as the way he earns his living -- and that is appalling.

Full Review… | May 8, 2005
New York Times
Top Critic

Rainer Werner Fassbinder has a genius for detailing the pain of suppressed emotional states, and even at its most achingly deliberate, his style in dealing with the petit bourgeois mentality is a source of endless fascination.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Fassbinder is going for realism, but almost a heightened, stagey version of it. This strategy makes the film more deeply felt, amplifying the awkwardness.

Full Review… | June 13, 2015
Lawrence.com

An unforgettable cantata, raspy and plangent, every composition attuned to circles of torment and frustration

Full Review… | January 13, 2013
CinePassion

What makes [Fassbinder's] vision so riveting, however, is its brutal honesty, brilliant theatricality, and masterly cinematic execution.

Full Review… | September 18, 2006
TV Guide

The soul-sucking nature of capitalism drives this brilliant film, but the rich characters and the almost constant tension keep it emotionally resonant.

Full Review… | June 23, 2006
Combustible Celluloid

Audience Reviews for Händler der vier Jahreszeiten (The Merchant of Four Seasons)

½

Fassbinder stops experimenting and goes back to storytelling, and the film is all the better for it.

Marcus Woolcott
Marcus Woolcott

Super Reviewer

½

"The Merchant of Four Seasons" is a grim portrait of a troubled fruit seller. Scarred by an unloving mother and unrewarding stints in the Foreign Legion and the police, he struggles to keep his modest business afloat while enduring a loveless marriage in which both partners are unfaithful. He drinks too much and beats his wife, but his self-loathing becomes wholly unmanageable after he suffers a heart attack and can't work anymore. He hires others to peddle his stock, but they only make his masculinity feel more threatened. "Merchant" is actually easier to watch than many Fassbinder films. Its scenes are shot in brightly lit interiors, and there is no murky musical score to endure (in fact, there's no score at all). The cast is loaded with good faces to study, and a splash of full frontal nudity (alas, the luminous Hanna Schygulla stays dressed) will tickle the audience's libido.

Eric Broome
Eric Broome

Super Reviewer

A turning point in Fassbinder's career with the consolidation of his style as a storyteller; a film in which he explores emotional tragedy using a theatrical frame (the acting, mise-en-scène, the distinct palette of colors) to make a striking commentary on the petit bourgeois mentality.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

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