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

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



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Despair (Despair - Eine Reise ins Licht) Photos

Movie Info

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 novel by Vladimir Nabokov. Furthermore, the entire film, set in 1930s Germany, is in English. It received mixed reviews, if only because it is so unlike the director's other works. In the story, a Russian owner of a German chocolate-factory, whose business and marriage are both on the rocks, fantasizes about leaving his current life, and living another one. Indeed, he has delusions that he is somehow outside himself, watching himself live his life. So strong is his desire to alter his life that when he encounters a tramp while on a brief business trip, he imagines that the man looks exactly like him, decides to exchange identities with the tramp, and murders him. ~ Clarke Fountain, Rovi


Dirk Bogarde
as Hermann Herman
Andrea Ferreol
as Lydia Herman
Klaus Lowitsch
as Felix Weber
Peter Kern
as Muller
Ingrid Caven
as Hotel Receptionist
Liselotte Eder
as Secretary
Y Sa Lo
as Elsie
Hark Bohm
as Doktor
Roger Fritz
as Inspector Braun
Adrian Hoven
as Inspector Schelling
Gottfried John
as Perebrodov
Armin Meier
as 1st and 2nd Twin and Foreman
Hans Zander
as Muller's Brother
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News & Interviews for Despair (Despair - Eine Reise ins Licht)

Critic Reviews for Despair (Despair - Eine Reise ins Licht)

All Critics (23) | Top Critics (12)

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.

December 12, 2017 | Rating: 1/4 | Full Review…

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

March 18, 2015 | Full Review…

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.

March 18, 2015 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
Top Critic

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.

March 18, 2015 | Full Review…

[It's] Rainer Werner Fassbinder's most obsessively arty movie and by no means his best. Even so, it is wildly distinctive.

March 18, 2015 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

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.

February 27, 2012

Audience Reviews for Despair (Despair - Eine Reise ins Licht)

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 camera work and acting.

Robert Brogan
Robert Brogan

Super Reviewer


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 found in his earlier works. Especially the tone he adopts seems incompatible with the kind of story he wants to tell.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

Personally, I think this is one of Bogarde's finest roles.

Stefanie C
Stefanie C

Super Reviewer

Despair (Despair - Eine Reise ins Licht) Quotes

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