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World on a Wire
BLU-RAY disk
03.08.2012 By: Mathew Plale
World on a Wire order
Director:
Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Actors:
Klaus Löwitsch
Mascha Rabben
Adrian Hoven

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
An engineer (Löwitsch) investigates disappearances and a suicide attempt in and around an alternate reality called Simulacron.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
In the universe of World on a Wire, reality and its alternatives layer over each other. And anyone who knows too much could end up being erased from all of it.

The main character is Fred Stiller (Klaus Löwitsch), a researcher/engineer at the IKZ Institute. The institute has built a supercomputer called Simulacron, a virtual reality populated by “identity units” that, as they live and make love like humans, believe it all to be real. There are nearly ten thousands of these “circuits” and the IKZ suits see no reason to stop there.

His mentor and friend, Professor Vollmer (Adrian Hoven), vanishes after discovering too many of Simulacron’s secrets. Then IKZ’s security head, Günther Lause (Ivan Desny), disappears, and no one claims to have heard of him. Then one of the “circuits,” Einstein, tries to find a way out by committing suicide. Then Vollmer’s daughter (Mascha Robben) tells Stiller that he may not be the man he thinks he is.

Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s World on a Wire (1973), based on Daniel F. Galouye’s novel Simulacron-3, is a science-fiction tale that lacks special effects. It doesn’t need them. Instead, it wants us to think, Who is being watched, and when, and by how many? All of the worlds in the film are a bit of a demonstration of how a lot of people get their kicks. Aren’t we all avid movie and TV junkies? Aren’t there video games created specifically for the purpose of designing your own world and choosing who lives there?

Originally made for German television, World on a Wire runs in two parts at 212 minutes. It is long, yes, but Fassbinder seems to know what he’s doing in each scene. This is a piece of work that needs its time. And in the end, we are alienated and controlled, left with the question, Where does it end?
THE EXTRAS
Fassbinder’ “World on a Wire”: Looking Ahead to Today (50:39): Directed by Juliana Lorenz, this extensive documentary from 2010 uses clips and interviews (with cinematographer Michael Ballhaus, co-screenwriter Fritz Müller-Scherz and actor Karl-Heinz Vosgerau) to paint a detailed account on the making of World on a Wire, Fassbinder’s only science-fiction film.

Interview with Gerd Gemünden (34:14): In this interview, Fassbinder scholar Gemünden discusses the themes of World on a Wire and the reputation of its director.

Trailer

Also included with this Criterion Collection Blu-ray is a 12-page booklet featuring an essay titled “The Hall of Mirrors” by film critic Ed Halter.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
The Criterion Collection has given Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s World on a Wire the proper Blu-ray treatment, using the newly restored print to showcase top-notch video and audio. Included is a comprehensive 2010 documentary and a great interview with Fassbinder scholar Gerd Gemünden that covers both the director and his only science-fiction film.
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