Country: Germany
Year: 1969
Duration: 85'

Baal is an anarchic poet who lives in an attic and reads his poems to taxi drivers. Victim of the classic parable of the artist, he is first chastised by bourgeoisie and then forgotten. Derelict, he wanders looking for alcohol, cigarettes, and sex. He becomes careless about his relationships and gets a young actress pregnant, but he doesn’t give up his selfish freedom and his extreme survival instinct.
Broadcasted by West German TV in 1969, the film was then stashed away in the vaults by Brecht’s widow, Helene Weigel, who held the rights to the play and was so horrified by Fassbinder’s performance. Only in 2011, two decades after Helen Weigel’s death, her daughter Barbara Schall-Brecht decided to allow the film to be released on DVD, thanks to the reputation of Fassbinder. 


film director

Volker Schlöndorff

Volker Schlöndorff (Wiesbaden, Germany, 1939) moved to France in 1956 and worked as assistant director to Louis Malle, Jean-Pierre Melville and Alain Resnais; his 1965 film Young Torless marked the first international success for New German Cinema and won the FIPRESCI Prize at Cannes. The Tin Drum, based on the novel of the same title by Günter Grass, won the 1979 Palme d’or in Cannes and an Oscar. Many of his movies participated to the most important film festivals around the world: among them, The Ogre was presented in Venice, and won the UNICEF Prize. He has also directed theatre and opera productions, including works by Janácek and Henze. 


Der junge Törless (I turbamenti del giovane Torless, 1965), Mord und Todschlag (Vivi ma non uccidere, 1966), Michael Kohlhaas - Der Rebell (La spietata legge del ribelle, 1969), Baal (id., tv, 1970), Die Moral der Ruth Halbfass (La morale di Ruth Halbfass, 1972) Strohfeuer (Fuoco di paglia, 1975), Die Blechtrommel (Il tamburo di latta, 1980), Die Fälschung (L’inganno, 1982), The Handmaid’s Tale (Il racconto dell’ancella, 1990), Der Unhold (L’orco, 1996), Die Stille nach dem Schuss (Il silenzio dopo lo sparo, 2000), Ten Minutes Older: The Cello (ep. The Enlightenment, id., cm, 2004), Ulzhan (2007), La mer à l’aube (2011), Diplomatie (2014).

Jean-Daniel Pollet, Volker Schlöndorff:
Méditerranée (mm, 1963).


film director

“Hallelujah! …For Fassbinder, yes; for Schlöndorff, never! Fine, I’ll happily play the black sheep. Now there’s work to do.”


& Credits

regia, sceneggiatura/director, screenplay
Volker Schlöndorff
dall’omonima pièce di/from the play of the same title by Bertolt Brecht
Dietrich Lohmann
montaggio/film editing
Peter Ettengruber
Klaus Doldinger
Alfred Limmer, Ludwig Probst, Franz K. Meyer
Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Sigi Graue, Margarethe von Trotta, Hanna Schygulla
Hessischer Rundfunk, Bayerischer Rundfunk, Hallelujah Film GmbH
Les Films du Losange
Marine Goulois