Last night, I watched Ranier Werner Fassbinder's In a Year with 13 Moons to review for the website. Fassbinder is considered one of the leading figures in the German New Wave movement, along with Wim Wenders, Werner Herzog and the director of "Tin Drum" (cant remember his name--Volker Schoffender?). He died of an overdose in 1982; he was only in his early 4os, but he completed over 40 films. I never saw a Fassbinder film before, but his reputation is quite deserving.
This film is one of his most personal; he wrote, directed, shot, and edited this film right after his long-time lover killed himself. The film follows a woman named Elvira (formerly named Erwin) as she attempts to find purpose in life after she made a rash decision to have a sex change operation. Erwin became Elvira because a man once glibbly said that he would fall in love with Erwin if one he were a woman. The story is quite heart-wrenching. It really raises some interesting questions, not about sexuality, but the complex nature of emotion as informing decision-making.
Fassbinder adored the works of Douglas Sirk, so most of his films have a very melodramatic flare (watching a melodrama in German, I must admit, is quite disorienting). As opposed to American melodrama where the melodrama plays out in the performances of the characters, I was struck by the melodramatic cinematography. If anything, this film is beautiful (mirrors were a dominant motif-somewhat cliche, but it was done so well).
Back to the dissertation...or at least the theater.