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Category:    Home > Reviews > Rio Das Mortes

Rio Das Mortes


Picture: B-     Sound: C     Extras: C-     Film: B+



Not only was Fassbinder exceptionally talented at off-beat filmmaking, but he also had a knack for taking relatively simple storylines and turning them into rather extensive outings.  In Rio Das Mortes we are introduced to two friends that want to leave Germany in order to find a treasure that they believe is hidden.  However, the fiancé of the one girl threatens to kill them both if they decide to go through with the trip.  While some might not be able to turn this into much, Fassbinder takes this story and turns it into a bizarre tale that involves our desires and willingness to make the things in our mind become realities. 


Typically filmmakers would have a hard time taking simplistic material and making it work for the whole film.  It is also fair to say that some people have a hard time getting into a Fassbinder film, but that’s because they operate in a slightly different way.  Somewhat slower, but they allow the viewer more time to identify with the characters, not matter how bizarre.  The story takes time to set up and nothing is done too fast, which would seem obvious.  I suppose a good comparison would be to Antonioni and films like L’Avventura or The Passenger.


Wellspring has been releasing Fassbinder’s catalog onto DVD and they do a fine job with Rio Das Mortes.  While there are very few supplements the transfer looks good and the audio is adequate as well. The film is presented in its original full-frame aspect ratio with yellow subtitles.  Similar with their release of Fear of Fear, the transfer is exceptionally clean, but suffers at time from a softness and slight detail loss.  The audio is a simple monophonic Dolby Digital 2.0 presentation that works for the material considering most will be reading the subtitles anyway.  Those who can understand the German language will not be too disappointed.


This is a particularly great character study film, which comes highly recommended, but perhaps not as a first introduction to Fassbinder. Fans of Jim Jarmusch might also enjoy Fassbinder as well, especially those who likes Dead Man with Johnny Depp or Down By Law, which was recently restored by Criterion and available through them in a nice special edition.



-   Nate Goss


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