Despair (Despair - Eine Reise ins Licht)
Despair (Despair - Eine Reise ins Licht) (1978)

Having made as many films as he had years, at 31, Rainer Werner Fassbinder essayed a slightly different approach for his 32nd film, Despair. Here, he uses a witty screenplay written by the well-known playwright Tom Stoppard, based on a… More

Rated: Unrated
Running Time:
Release Date: May 19, 1978
DVD Release Date: December 30, 1988
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Critic Score: 65% Rotten Tomatoes™ Critic Reviews
John Skow
TIME Magazine

Dirk Bogarde, looking natty and nerve-worn, is exactly right as the fissured Hermann, a chocolate manufacturer whose business has turned bitter.

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David Jenkins
Time Out

Effortlessly literate [and] gaudily stylish.

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Elliott Stein
Film Comment Magazine

Despair does absolutely nothing worth doing, but it does succeed in one area where several hack directors before him failed: bagging a bad performance from Dirk Bogarde.

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Dave Kehr
Chicago Reader

The first half is oppressive, cluttered, and funny, but as the film forsakes its artificial settings for more open spaces, it becomes pale and mechanical.

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Variety Staff

Despite a witty, albeit theatrical, script by Tom Stoppard, prolific German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder does not quite bring off the spirited linguistic innovations, wit and penetrating insights of Vladimir Nabokov's novel.

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Ted Whitehead
The Spectator

The resultant film is, he says, faithful to both Stoppard's script and Nabokov's novel; it is certainly not faithful to Fassbinder, who is here seen tripping over one style after another and ending up utterly ditched.

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Richard Brody
New Yorker

Fassbinder films life in the cosseted class as a masque of glass and mirrors, replete with alluring deceptions and suave surfaces that belie volcanic passions.

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Paul Taylor
Time Out

Bold, garish and obsessive, but more than a little irritating.

Wendy Ide
Times (UK)

Certainly Dirk Bogarde's performance, although arch and mannered, is uncomfortably compelling. And the cinematography is undeniably striking. But I can't say I enjoyed it.

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Flixster Audience Score: 75% Flixster User Reviews
Carlos Magalh„es
As Fassbinder's first film in English, this psychedelic drama may have an intriguing story but the direction is heavy-handed and lacks that conviction… More
Stefanie C
Personally, I think this is one of Bogarde's finest roles.
Robert Brogan
Despair is a fun and absurd feature. The filmmaking is reminiscent of Bunuel, especially the upfront symbolic imagery, yet the style is distinctly playful, both… More