Fontane Effi Briest

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Original title Fontane Effi Briest or many who have an inkling of their possibilities and their needs and still accept the ruling system in their head through their actions and thus consolidate and confirm it
Country of production Federal Republic of Germany (FRG)
original language German
Publishing year 1974
length 140 minutes
Age rating FSK 12
Director Rainer Werner Fassbinder
script Rainer Werner Fassbinder
production Rainer Werner Fassbinder
music Camille Saint-Saëns
camera Dietrich Lohmann , Jürgen Juerges
cut Thea Eymèsz

Fontane Effi Briest (full title: Fontane Effi Briest or many who have an inkling of their possibilities and their needs and still accept the ruling system in their head through their actions and thus consolidate and confirm it ) is a film by Rainer Werner Fassbinder from 1974. The film is based on the novel Effi Briest by Theodor Fontane .


Seventeen-year-old Effi Briest is married to Baron Geert von Innstetten, who is twenty years her senior. Effi feels lonely in her new home, a small seaside resort in the Baltic Sea. She is unhappy, without always fully admitting it to herself, because she is not really loved by her principled and ambitious husband, despite his shown affection. At first only variety, then confusion, the acquaintance with the new district commandant Major Crampas, to whom her husband feels friendly too. Between Effi and Crampas, a relationship that oscillates between flirtation and passion develops, which ends when the Innstetten family moves to Berlin. After six years, Innstetten accidentally discovers that previous relationship between Crampas and his wife. He challenges Crampas to a duel and kills him. He offends Effi, keeps the daughter Annie and raises her in a kind of defense against her mother. In addition, she is rejected by her parents, whereupon Effi's will to live and vitality are broken. She becomes terminally ill from nervous stress. The doctor therefore advises the parents to take Effi back in. She then dies on her parents' property in reconciliation with everyone.


Fassbinder's film adaptation is the fourth of the Fontane novel. The special thing about his adaptation is that he doesn't just translate the content. Instead of creating an illusion, he does not allow such an illusion to arise in the first place through his formal-aesthetic way of conveying. A reading voice-over, white screens, inserts, fade-in of writing, etc. create analogies to the reading process.

In contrast to the 1968 Luderer film adaptation, Fassbinder does not portray Effi as a victim of stiff Prussian society. Rather, he seems to suggest that people should not wait for change or even for insight on the part of the authorities, but have to step out themselves his immaturity.


“Theodor Fontane's novel about the failure of a marriage in an oppressive web of social constraints in an extremely subtly staged and stylistically closed film adaptation, especially in the lighting. Fassbinder not only reflects the social situation of his characters, but ultimately also that of the artist who describes them. "

“Every word, in dialogue and comment, that takes up the dialogue, continues it, anticipates the action or develops a dialectic to the image, stands with Fontane: not a film adaptation, but a film as reading; you see, hear and read a novel. "

“Due to the clever staging and the successful condensation of the plot on Fassbinder's central theme,“ Fontane Effi Briest ”is a literary adaptation that impressively demonstrates Fassbinder's view of filming a text: For Fassbinder, filming literature does not mean the mere illustration of what is written to reach the largest possible interface between the readers' imaginations, but rather the opportunity to make a film that challenges the recipient; a film where thinking doesn't stop, but begins. "

- Christian Horn,


In 1974, the film won at the International Film Festival in Berlin the Interfilm Award and was for the Golden Bear nominated.

Margin notes


Almost all actors (except Hanna Schygulla, Wolfgang Schenck and Karlheinz Böhm in the three main roles) were dubbed by other actors in order to achieve an additional alienation effect. Fassbinder himself took over the dialogue direction.

role actor speaker
Major Crampas Ulli Lommel Wolfgang Hess
Roswitha Ursula Strätz Renate Küster
Johanna Irm Hermann Margit Carstensen
Mrs. von Briest Lilo Pempeit Rosemarie Fendel
Mr. von Briest Herbert Steinmetz Arnold Marquis
Pharmacist Gieshübler Hark Bohm Kurt Raab
Annie Andrea Schober Eva Mattes


  • Theodor Fontane : Effi Briest . Novel. - Among many others: Insel, Frankfurt am Main / Leipzig 2006, ISBN 3-458-35204-X
  • Rainer W. Fassbinder: Fontane Effi Briest . Feature film, Germany 1972–74; Drama / literary film adaptation, Arthaus, 2005. EAN 4006680033358
  • Claudia Gladziejewski: Dramaturgy of the novel adaptation: systematics of practical analysis and attempt at theory using the example of four classics of world literature and their film adaptations . Coppi-Verlag, 1998
  • Gaby Schachtschabel: The ambivalence character of the literary film adaptation: with an example analysis of Theodor Fontane's novel Effi Briest u. its adaptation by Rainer Werner Fassbinder . Lang, 1984

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Release certificate for Fontane Effi Briest . Voluntary self-regulation of the film industry , May 2009 (PDF; test number: 46 360 V / DVD / UMD).
  2. ↑ The model for this figure was the doctor Eduard Israel Mattersdorf (1800–1889); Andreas Kutschelis: Privy Councilor Rummschüttel - Dr. med. Eduard Mattersdorf, the literary doctor figure in Fontane's 'Effi Briest' and her natural role model from Liegnitz. In: Tempora mutantur et nos? Festschrift for Walter M. Brod… Ed. By Andreas Mettenleiter , Akamedon, Pfaffenhofen 2007, pp. 388–392
  3. ^ Effi Briest (1972-74). In: Lexicon of International Films . Film service , accessed July 21, 2017 .Template: LdiF / Maintenance / Access used 
  4. Wolf Donner : Fathers and Sons , Die Zeit , No. 28/1974
  5. ^ [1] Criticism on