- Rated: Unrated
- Run Time: 2 hours, 1 minutes
- Video: Color
- Released: June 7, 2011
- Originally Released: 1979
- Label: Olive Films
- Encoding: Region 1 (USA & Canada)
- Aspect Ratio: Widescreen - 1.66
Performers, Cast and Crew:
Sight and Sound - 09/01/1978
"...Dominated by an intellectual, puzzle-making mood..."
New York Times - 02/16/1979
"...Fassbinder's elegant, comic, purposely precious film version [of Nabokov's book] adapted by the playwright Tom Stoppard, who has been inspired Nabokov to attain new heights of splendid lunacy, and acted by Dirk Bogarde, who gives one of the wittiest performances of his entire career..."
Film Comment - 05/01/2011
"An unlikely meeting of two radically different sensibilities, Fassbinder's 1978 film transforms Nabokov's arch 1934 pastiche of Dostoevsky and dime-store mysteries to his own ends....Oddly affecting."
Sight and Sound - 08/01/2011
"[I]f ever there was a supergroup film it was DESPAIR....What collected fame!"
Description by OLDIES.com:
Based on the classic novel by Vladimir Nabokov with screenplay adaptation by Tom Stoppard. In early 1930s Germany, against the backdrop of the Nazis' rise to power, Hermann Hermann (Dirk Bogarde), a Russian emigrant and successful chocolate magnate, starts experiencing mental breakdowns. He soon meets Felix, an unemployed laborer, who Hermann believes to be his doppelganger. He hatches up an elaborate plot, which he believes will free him of all his worries and nightmares. Cinematography by legendary DP, Michael Ballhaus (Goodfellas). Directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder (Berlin Alexanderplatz).
Set against the backdrop of Nazi Germany, "Despair" is an emotionally rich & stirring account of a factory owner's frightening descent into madness. This is Fassbinder at his finest. Tom Stoppard's screenplay from Vladimir Nabakov's novel.
The great and prolific German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder made his English-language debut with this film written by playwright Tom Stoppard -- and based on a novel by Vladimir Nabokov.
"Despair" takes a painstaking and penetrating look at the psychology of a Russian emigré living in Paris in the 1920s. Herman has become so distanced and alienated from the world around him that he even imagines himself standing outside his own body, "watching himself" going about his business.
Then he meets a man who, in fact, is his physical double, and Herman concocts a murderous scheme that will assure his financial security for good.
- Shown at the Cannes Film Festival (in competition) May 20, 1978.
- Color by Eastmancolor.
- German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder's first film in English.