Ian Penman on soccer and Fassbinder:
“One of the best things about the image of Fassbinder in his Bayern T-shirt is the look on his face: our famed debauchee and grumpy pessimist looks like a little boy who got exactly what he wanted for Christmas, looks almost embarrassed by how happy he is. One of the main characters in Veronika Voss is a sports reporter, detained at an important Bayern game during a crucial moment in the narrative (which concerns his doomed affair with a glamorous but ailing German movie star). Is there the outline of a mischievous self-portrait here? ‘On the outside I may look like just another lumpy, beer-stoked lumpenprole, but inside I am pure silver screen diva.’ (There is a lash-thin RWF cameo right at the beginning of the film: he is slumped, bear-like, in a back-row-centre cinema seat, smoking up a storm.)
Veronika Voss was the final film in the so-called BDR or Bundesrepublik Deutschland triptych; the other two panels being Lola (1981) and The Marriage of Maria Braun (1979), never a film I was particularly taken with. Awed by the flawless technique, sure, but for all that strangely unmoved. When it came to mind this week, I had to consult an old filmography to clarify its baldly melodramatic plot. I could recall nothing concrete about it whatsoever – except for one small crucial detail. In the climactic scene, the soundtrack is provided by a radio broadcast of an excitedly jabbering football commentator. If you were German, it would have been obvious which commentary, which game, and why Fassbinder chose it.”
(Read the article here.)
To some soccer is the elevator music of melancholia; to others it is the elevator music of melodrama.