Margot tries to block her unhappiness of being happy “like everybody”

Exemplary young family living in apartment overfilled with over-comfortable furniture.

Margot (Margit Carstensen) is a wife of a husband who tries to make a career. It means that he is so overwhelmed with this task that he is not able to concentrate on his wife’s psychological problems (automatic sex and generic tenderness – that’s all he can do). Margot develops a neurotic fear that the very prosperity of her and her children’s life is not real: it can disappear at any moment. And the only help (as we, Americans, know so well, not less than Europeans) is – alcohol, drugs, pills, loudly played pop-music, promiscuity, etc.

This film shows to us ourselves in our everyday struggle to keep sanity in a world that melts through our fingers.

If war is a continuation of politics by another means, the post-WWII German economic miracle is a continuation of Nazi fascism by another – economic means. Financial manipulations, land speculation, property appropriation, prosperity worship, total dedication to career and its enhancements, real estate boom squeezing the poorer people, material comfort by any price – are now operational definitions of domination. The interior of the Margot and Kurt Staudtes’ apartment is, as if, made for furniture that uses people like balls in a game of billiard.

For Margot (Margit Carstensen, who once again was able to triumphantly reincarnate into a new character, after her ultimate performance as Petra – “The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant” – 1972) – the furniture/food/children: her middle class prosperity is, simultaneously, something she wants to keep and yet feels is a mirage. The fear of losing it becomes a mental symptom exactly because she doesn’t believe in its reality. It is her latent (unconscious) refutation of everyday reality which makes it unreal to her, but this intensifies her fear. The human intelligence in Margot clashes with a collective ideology of glamorous philistinism. It’s, as if, she feels that what is unreal can easily slip away. She desperately glues to her daughter’s physical existence, she jumps to her husband for sexual sensation – to persuade herself in the realness of her life which is not rooted in Being.

How to continue to live a life that is not a life at all? How to learn to believe in the collective hallucination? How to take your husband’s career for the real life just because it provides money to go on? How to accept your own real children as belonging to a superficial world?

We see here Margot (with a bottle of wine) and Lore/Irm Hermann (the sister-in-law) with cabbage and the grocery bag. Margot is the person with problems – fear, fear of fear, growing contempt for life according to the values of appropriation, possession, consumption and feeling pride for being successful. Lore, on the other hand, is the passionate guardian of propriety.

Herr Bauer (Kurt Raab) is talking in his semi-silent manner with Margot, while Magot’s doctor (and her future lover) is observing them with concern. Mr. Bauer is “mad” – he is silent “alternative” to the militant philistinism of the majority of the local residents. Margot never has complained to him about her problems, but he, as if, knows – he on his way to his broken mental condition went through the same “hell”. He is silently compassionate – that’s all he can do for her.

For intelligent people – the pie of material prosperity, the sweat of making it, pride this work is rewarded with and its success create a paradoxical reaction – a combination of fear of losing what you have, based on the feeling of not deserving it, and of the feeling that this prosperity is unreal, based on the unconscious disrespect for it. Margot is a privileged person who met this predicament.

The drunken disrespect for mass-cultural entertaining consolations and for a technology providing it is a reaction not without some validity.

Margot’s reaction on a conformist life of philistinism (oriented on rewards) is typical among the not too typical – intellectually sensitive people. She desperately needs help to block her “philosophical” inability to just enjoy her prosperous life. Common reaction on having a consumerist life would be just to become a conservative extremist, while Margot needs some “artificial balancing”.

Margot searches for salvation from greed-based prosperity and comfort in order to be able to continue life of prosperity and comfort.

Margot is trying to save herself from prosperity and comfort in order to be able not to lose it.

The loosing of matter-of-factly emotional predatoriness consumer society is based on – the feeling like vomiting (of what you consume), has an extraordinary side. In the unconscious of this beautiful woman – a saint is hidden. The problem is that this spiritual seed inside her soul is effectively weakened not only by the consumerist habit but what is supposed to help her to overcome her addiction to consumerism. She became addicted to the blockers of consumerist happiness she is suffering from. It looks like that for Margot the way towards an alternative living – a more decent and a rational, is radically closed.

On Aug, 01, 2009 posted the essay –  Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s “FEAR OF FEAR” (1975) – The Seductive Power and the Unbearability of a Sublimated Fascism  by Acting-Out Politics