Die Darstellung der Großstadt in Alfred Döblins Berlin Alexanderplatz (German Edition)
Already in May Flesch announced the production of the play which can be interpreted as a symbol of the great prestige that he accorded to the project. But how to rework a novel of pages into a radio play of approximately80 minutes? A massive abbreviation of the story was of course the most evident strategy to follow, but to 64 Flesch , pp. Quoted in Stoffels , p. The title of the drama referred to the British passenger ship that had been torpedoed by a German submarine in The fact that the sinking of the Lusita- nia contributed to American intervention in the war made it a sensitive topic even after the war.
This is especially relevant for the questions of how the urban soundscape of Berlin is represented in the play and if or how urban sound events are used to dramatize the narrative. But before we start analyzing the play following these questions, one important his- torical fact needs to be revealed. And that is to say that the play never was aired during the years of the Weimar Republic! See Sander , p. For the tran- script of the recorded version see Prangel , pp. Schwitze and Jelavich strongly push for a political interpretation of the cancellation referring to the sweeping success of the National Socialist Party in the September elections of He explained this by the fact that they had started experimenting with pre- recording some passages on sound film and discs — an experience, that had opened completely new possibilities in terms of sound design and narrative direction.
The fact that a complete first version of the play has indeed been pre-recorded and survived in the archives of the DeutschesRundfunkarchivis in our opinion a strong indicator for the fact that the cancellation happened due to artistic considerations. The com- plete play is available on CD as a bonus to the film on the dvd-edition sold by Arthaus.
But what about the sonic representation of the city? Indeed it does. Already the opening scene right after the prologue puts the listener in the position of a pedestrian walking on the streets of Berlin.
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He encounters voices from different spheres. This principle of mixing pre-recorded background noises for example of a pub with music and using them simultaneously as acoustic background for the mono- or dialogues of the play, make the version an intriguing example of a playful and complex narrative, constantly blurring the boundaries between a realistic reportage and a fantastic nar- ration, between reality and psyche. The strongest signifier with regard to the topographical setting of the play is the exten- sive use of Berlin dialect though. The main voices of the play are all taken from well 75 Jelavich , p.
See Arnheim , p. As in the novel, the radio play — both in its original and in its version — evoke many popular tunes of the day. Probably the most startling scene of the whole play is the housebreaking passage where Biberkopf has to keep cave. The scene is introduced by the voices of the two cars — one Fiat and one Opel — which will have to drive the Pums gang to the storehouse: 79 Jelavich , p.
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An old Opel, and you? A Fiat! I can imagine… Kaiser-Wilhelm-Street: they want to get up for a bit of no good again! Sounds familiar! The duet-like dialogue of the tow cars — the two voices alternate pre- cisely in the rhythm of the music — serves as a dynamic motive and strong narrative element in the dramatization of the scene. Both the Opel and the Fiat express their disapproval of the criminal activities and show a great deal of sympathy for Biberkopf, especially when he is thrown from the car.
Ein Fiat! Is mir nischt Neuet. Although fascinated by the film as new artistic form of visual storytelling from the beginning, he was disgusted by the brutal commercialization and cheap mass entertaining function that had turned the new medium into an industry and pure business.
Tobis Tonbild Syndicate A. Melodie der Welt is a musical journey around the world, and does not visit Berlin. Nei- ther would Ruttman do this in his later sound films. But this realistic turn obviated the symbolism and spiritual multidimensionality that pervaded the novel — much to the decep- 85 Hake , p. SeeGomery , pp.
PDF Die Darstellung der Großstadt in Alfred Döblins Berlin Alexanderplatz (German Edition)
See Jelavich , pp. When he gets on the tram to the city, the music-- as we already discussed in our chapter Shifting Sounds this volume --is first punctu- ated by, and then merges with the sounds of traffic: the tram engine, the tram bells and car horns. At the climax of the scene the sounds and sights of the city become too much for Franz, and he jumps of the tram. While there is plenty of diegetic music in scenes taking place in cafes and night clubs and during a wedding, it is not part of the big outdoor scenes in the film.
During the scenes at the titular Alexanderplatz, when Franz is working as a street vendor, the film presents us with the soundscape of a modern city.
Trains and trams arrive at and depart from the big train station; buses and cars drive by and sound their horns. Behind Franz construction work takes place, filling the square with its noises. Only from far away the soothing sound of church bells is heard to announce lunchtime. Biberkopf has to raise his voice to be heard by the crowd sur- rounding him, and he urges people to come closer, so that he may still have a voice left the next day.
All in all, the noisification of music in the opening sequence and the conscious con- 90 For a detailed description of the contemporary reactions that the film provoked see Sander , pp. This filmic version of Berlin Alexanderplatz, realized by the German avant-garde film maker Rainer Werner Fassbinder,confronts us with yet another form of adaptation: the translation of the novel into a television series. Fassbinder, now referred to as one of the outstanding film directors of the New German Cinema of the s, had directed several films based on epic or dramatic artworks when he decided to embark on the Berlin Alexanderplatz project.
A project which turned out to be the monumental late work of Fassbinder with a total length of fifteen and a half hours of film, chunked into 13 episodes and an epilogue of 60 minutes average length each. With a total budget of 13 million Marks, the film was shot in days between June and April and first broadcasted in 14 episodes between October and December on WDR.
Fassbinder never in- tended to produce a film that would stay close to the original, but he decidedly opted for a biographically motivated interpretation of the text, using the main protagonist Franz Biber- kopf as an agent to stage the complex and obscure condition of his own haunting biogra- 95 See Aalbers forthcoming. See Braunger , p. Instead, Fassbinder consciously broke with established conventions both concerning the length of a classical feature film and concerning aesthetic and moral norms in the public service television culture of the Federal Republic.
While Jutzi fitted the story into the length of a standard feature film of his days with a duration of 84 minutes, Fassbinder produced a monu- mental film of nearly minutes, expanding the narrative time span of his story into a series 99 Sander , pp. The homepage of the Fassbinder Foundation www. His work often received mixed notices from the national critics, many of whom only began to take Fassbinder seriously after the foreign press had hailed him as a genius.
The serialization of the film into an episodic narrative constitutes — in the eyes of many critics — an artificial fragmentation of the storyline and destroys much of the immersive power of the film. But the most prominent intermedial references Fassbinder plays with are of musical or acoustic nature. It is a highly allegorical and provocative filmic commentary on the main topics of the novel by Fassbinder.
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Stroheim originally produced a version with a total length of nearly ten hours, the film was radically cut down by the producers Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in order to fit it into the conventions of feature films of the time because of financial reasons. Music is used in both a diegetic and non-diegetic way.
Biberkopf very often sings or hums to popular tunes form the gramophone or radio in his home. Needled by their singing of the Internationale, he re- sponds with Die Wacht am Rhein — a German folk song written by von Max Schnecken- burger and set to music in by Carl Wilhelm.
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During the Kaiserreich , the song was extremely popular and acquainted — albeit never official — nearly the status of a na- tional hymn. Biberkopf already performed the song in the first episode when, in a mood of panic and disorientation after his disimprisonment, he fled into a courtyard of a tenement. In singing the song with a strong voice, he regains self-confidence and breathes a sign of relief. In addition to the diegetic performances of the singing Biberkopf, non-diegetic musi- cal references are quite often visualized by showing a radio or gramophone and thereby marked as a historical tune of the s.
Music — both as instrument for the creation of a reality effect that suggests historical authenticity and as alien- ation effect in the Brechtian sense — is probably the strongest stylistic device used in the melodramatic staging of the story. While Biberkopf shows a glimpse of happiness when looking into the open sky of the prison yard that he had to cross in order to get to the main gate, he immediately shrinks back from the gate when confronted with the heavy traffic sounds coming from the street in front of the prison entrance.