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Merchant of the Four Seasons (Der Handler der Vierjahrezeiten)

Title: 
Merchant of the Four Seasons (Der handler der Vierjahreseiten)
Year: 
1971
Film Format: 
dvd
Director: 
Fassbinder, Rainer Werner
Language: 
German
Country: 
Germany
Genre: 
7/Ger/Fassbinder
Actors: 
Hanna Schygulla
Actors: 
Irm Hermann
Actors: 
Hans Hirschm├╝ller
Actors: 
Gusti Kreissl
Film Reviews: 

"Hans Epp is seen as a victim in a modern Matisse image of four orchard-fresh colours.Deliberately giving a primitive innocent turn to the peddlar's stubborn retreat from the venal ambitions that surround him, Fassbinder makes a wholesome frontal image in many ways like small Fra Angelico panels: a man in a crisp blue and white plaid shirt hawking the pale green pears filling a rectangular cart, a humble action frozen in a shallow-still composition." Manny Farber, Farber on Film

A wonderful title for  a severely downcast but astonishingly truthful and beautiful film. Hans,the titular fruit seller is beset by anxiety for his health after a big heart scare brought on by binge drinking,however, for some other nameless and corrosive anxiety that suffuses his life, the film flourishes and succeeds in defining the malaise of a whole generation.
He continues his business with the help of his wife and the employment of an assistant to carry out the physical work. He restrains his attractions to other women including his sister in law and his real love: a mysterious woman on one of his  barrow rounds. He tries to rebuild the relationship with his wife and daughter and with his needling and hostile family, who could never accept his lowly profession. Things don't go according to plan.
Fassbinder builds his argument - anti-market, anti-family, pro-love, pro-honesty- in a combination of subtle and direct strategies. Hans is brutal and bloated with drink and frustration to begin with and Fassbinder makes you feel his doomed attempt at transformation, he seems  like a juggernaut trying to change gear. The apartment's fussy decor oppresses with its mute presence, A crucifix looms above the bed. Hans is thwarted by his desire to have whatever it is that he has lost forever. Less rhetorical than some of his films but all the better for it. A great companion piece to the  Fear of Fear. A Masterpiece.