In a Year of 13 Moons

(In einem Jahr mit 13 Monden)
West Germany 1978. Dir: Rainer Werner Fassbinder. 124 min. 35mm

“Brilliant ... Save for his monumental miniseries Berlin Alexanderplatz, In a Year of 13 Moons may be Fassbinder’s greatest achievement.”

35mm PRINT | In an oeuvre packed with no fewer than 40 feature-length works of unyielding artistic integrity, this may be Fassbinder’s most overlooked masterpiece. An elegiac, deeply personal film made in the aftermath of actor Armin Meier’s suicide (he was Fassbinder’s lover and sometimes thespian), it chronicles the trials of a downcast Frankfurt transsexual in search of acceptance after being jilted by her longtime partner. Volker Spengler gives a devastating performance as Elvira, née Erwin, Fassbinder’s ultimate outsider. Her story is recounted, at one point, against the gory carnage of an abattoir — perhaps the cruellest estrangement effect in the director’s cinema. Never before had RWF had such a hands-on role in making a movie: he wrote, directed, produced, shot, and co-edited it. Screening here for the first time in almost 20 years (it was regrettably absent from our 2012 retrospective), the film is a haunting portrait of rejection and despair from one of cinema’s foremost observers of human unkindness.

Print courtesy of TIFF's Film Reference Library.


"Elegiac and complex, allowing a panoply of potential readings ... The most elegant release of grief transfigured into film."

Film Comment | full review

"Genius ... Another explosion in what appears to be a single, continuing eruption of talent that shows no signs of subsiding."

New York Times | full review

"May be Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s most radical effort in primal satire. He summons his full complement of theatrical extravagance and cinematic style."

New Yorker | full review