World on a Wire Screen 7 articles

World on a Wire

1973

World on a Wire Poster
  • First half ranks among the most dazzling feats of sustained formal gamesmanship in cinema history, much less broadcast-television history... Alas, once the cat's out of the bag, RWF seems to lose interest, and part two winds up feeling as tediously plot-heavy as the back end of a typical Crichton adaptation. Good job Wachowskis realizing that zero-gravity firefights would come in handy at that point.

  • There is not a dull frame in this 207-minute film, a threadbare masterpiece that positively revels in its lack of traditional "production values," not to mention a purposeful disjointedness.

  • It's willfully dense, a noirish sci-fi puzzler with a hint of James Bond and occasional soap suds bubbling up from its glassy concourse into the air of grainy fluorescence. Jean-Luc Godard’s Alphaville also was a model, for taking an available actual world to be plenty ominous and science-fiction-like as it is, and Fassbinder gets much power from the blunt, quaint aesthetic of seventies-style futurism, with its plasticky furniture, its ties and sideburns of formidable width, its groping zooms.

  • Though it is masterfully and complexly scripted, you can watch a work like Welt am Draht in terms of pure style, following the magnificent Fassbinderian flow of affect: the 360-degree revolving shots, the sudden and inexplicable crescendo in a character’s spiel, the casting of exclusively smoky-voiced male baritones, the bizarre gesticulations of a supporting character in the distant background…

  • Fassbinder works with science fiction ingeniously, layering his prescient story and characters with themes many of his other picture’s explore — power dynamics in relationships, identity, societal perceptions, how we observe from inside a film as characters and outside of a film as voyeurs, how we style our lives, and how we inhabit the style around us.

  • Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s three-and-a-half-hour, two-part, made-for-TV science-fiction thriller, from 1973—which he directed at the age of twenty-seven—is an astonishing display of precocious virtuosity... With high-style, high-gloss décor and ubiquitous video monitors, captured in gyrating tracking shots and jolting zooms, he evokes unstable distortions of images within images.

  • There's no denying this remarkable work ethic also produced a feeling of urgency (as well as a tense paranoia) that's still palpable four decades after WORLD ON A WIRE was made. No less than any other film of his career, it illustrates the radical will behind Fassbinder's art.

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