Die Niklashauser Fart (The Niklashausen Journey) - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Die Niklashauser Fart (The Niklashausen Journey) Reviews

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Super Reviewer
December 12, 2015
Fassbinder chucks religion, philosophy, idealism, and economics in to a pot and lets it cook for 90 minutes. It's crazy but it works.
September 9, 2008
The Niklashausen Journey is very much a product of its time, being halfways between a Goddardian (by way of Brecht) "distanced" telling of a historical tale, full of anachronisms and on-screen commentary, and a hip parable, not unlike an ultra-leftist Godspell with polemic replacing the songs.

The film is based on the life of one Hans Boehm, a shepherd from Niklashausen who, in the early 15th century, had visions of the Virgin Mary, gathered a large popular following amongst the peasantry, increasingly stirred up ill-feeling towards the clergy and nobility and was burned as a as a heretic and enchanter in 1476. In Fassbinder and Fengler's television film (shot on 16mm), a motley group of contemporary types re-enact the shepherd's story as well as talk endlessly about the methods, implications, pitfalls and necessities of political revolution. Along the way, the film suggests not just the mystic revolutionaries of the reformation period but also the German and Russian communists of the early 20th century and the hippies & black panthers contemporaneous to the film's release. The story would seem to suggest that the revolution - although justified by the corruption and guile of the ruling classes - is always doomed; the shepherd himself is a gorgeous blonde youth with little personality whose followers seem to be in the grip of some spell or hysteria, suggesting that he's nothing more than a Pied Piper, Hitler or Charles Manson.

Fassbinder himself plays one of the shepherd's cohorts, walking & talking alongside the group wearing his trademark blue jeans and black leather jacket. At one point one of the female followers chastises him for thinking that happiness can ever be achieved on earth - life on this plane of existence is merely ours to illustrate that there can be no happiness outside of heaven; Fassbinder says nothing either way about this...

The film is rather uncompromisingly lacking in narrative pull, although its amalgam of tableaux, slow zooms and intricately choreographed tracked dialogues does make it filmicly exciting. Basically, it's another of Fassbinder's long, slow steps out of avant-guarde cornerism towards becoming a master of 1970s cinema. Worth catching once, appreciable but difficult to really warm to. Not that it is meant to be taken warmly...
January 7, 2008
Die Niklashauser FART makes me sick, but in a challenging way that says its okay to suck other peoples bodily gasses into your mouth and die old and happy.
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