Fassbinder's magnum opus gets digital restoration

BERLIN — The Rainer Werner Fassbinder Foundation and Bavaria Media have teamed up to digitally restore the late German director’s classic “Berlin Alexanderplatz” for an upcoming theatrical and DVD release.

Made for TV in 1980, the 14-part, 15½-hour miniseries was produced by Bavaria Film for regional pubcaster WDR and is widely regarded as Fassbinder’s magnum opus.

Based on the novel by Alfred Doeblin, the series chronicles the life of Franz Biberkopf, an ex-con living in 1920s Berlin and trying unsuccessfully to straighten himself out. The series split the nation when it aired on TV here with its dark, gritty and unforgiving portrayal of the hardships of life.

Overseeing the restoration will be the production’s original director of photography Xaver Schwarzenberger; Dieter Minx, who served as production manager of the series; and Juliane Lorenz, the pic’s editor and current president of the Rainer Werner Fassbinder Foundation.

Backing the ambitious project are cultural subsidy and promotional orgs Kulturstiftung des Bundes, the Filmstiftung NRW, the Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg and German Films, with the support of the Museum of Modern Art New York and the Rainer Werner Fassbinder Foundation.

Post-production specialists Arri and Cinepostproduction are carrying out the digital remastering of the series using 2K scan procedure and digital frame-by-frame retouching to ready “Berlin Alexanderplatz” for its DVD and high- def distribution as well as for special festival and event screenings.

The restoration process will be finished in early 2007, marking the 25th anniversary of Fassbinder’s death. (The filmmaker died on June 10, 1982, of a drug overdose.)

Bavaria Film Intl. is handling international distribution of the film.

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