World on a Wire

I took in a couple of movies this weekend with my good friend and amazing cinematographer, HutcH. Some good, some bad; but the winner of the weekend was definitely Rainer Werner Fassbinder's science fiction epic, World on a Wire (Welt am Draht; Janus Films).

Made for German television in 1973, this film (actually a 2-part mini-series) - despite moments that may seem cheesy or campy in modern context - was ages ahead of its time and an absolute masterpiece. Artfully shot in 16mm reversal by the great Michael Ballhaus, A.S.C. (The Last Temptation of Christ, Gangs of New York and many, many others), the cinematography was absolutely stunning as you can see from the trailer.

Welt am Draht tells the story of a virtual reality computer engineer who finds himself caught in an intrigue that goes straight to the top and beyond. Part thriller, part love story, part dystopia, World on a Wire is all good. I want to stay away from too many plot details because it's actually fairly easy to figure out what's going on watching it in the year 2011. It's pretty familiar subject matter yet it doesn't disappoint on any level.

The film was until recently considered a "lost film;" nearly impossible to see except in low-grade versions on the Internet. In 2010 it received a new release after an amazing restoration. There's really only 1 shot in the film that looks severely degraded and the color and tone are just phenomenal. I highly recommend this for any cinema lover or lover of classic science fiction. If you're in New York, it's playing the rest of this week at IFC Center; but being a three and a half hour movie there's only one mid-day showing. Personally, I think it's worth taking a day off work for; or you can wait for the DVD.

(or, if you're a real film nerd and have a Region 2 DVD Player you can get the DVD below).