Quick-Thoughts: Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Eight Hours Don’t Make a Day (1972)

Rainer Werner Fassbinder Marathon Part I of V

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a director use zooms this tellingly and consistently before; for those who say they’re a jarring technique in film that should be secluded more, think again!

Eight Hours Don’t Make a Day is about the most charming, inviting, warm and cozy mini-series I’ve ever had the pleasure of consuming. Like, HOT-DAMN, this is just so utterly wholesome and crowd-pleasing that it kind of has me baffled why it seems to be a bit obscured from Fassbinder’s central filmography. It probably has to do with its political origins, being such a liberal-geared show broadcasted during a right-winged obsessed Germany, it would make sense this got shelved for so long before just now being restored for the public to bathe in all eight hours of its empathetic glory. 

This 1972 television program is one galored with power dynamics, including but not limited to a grandma in control of a new lover and a man in control of a best friend. But, probably the most telling connective piece of tissue to the story’s parallel to social work would be the fathers of the story who are often in control of their family; Fassbinder exposes the humiliating authority complexes that come with it and how when taken away shows true vulnerability and desperation — it reminds me a smidge of what PTA’s The Master attempted to convey about leaders, but made with a less glamorous approach and for good reason. Fassbinder sees hostility as a harm of judgement and proper action, but then again it can also come forth as a fruitful method to right the wrongs of lower/middle-class disadvantages, hindered by the higher-class decision swindlers; same goes for the ideology of silence: it’s a shield against trouble yet it is one rarely effective in resolving social frustrations, even in the casualist of affairs. A time period unprotected to capitalism and embracive of governmental exclusiveness sort of requires one to expect and hope for a counteraction of citizens to take measures into their own hands; it’s sort of sorrowful realizing that this is a reality that’ll likely never end for any country even today, as self-interest seems to be an impenetrable attribute no matter who you are, but its inspiration of good-minded uprising is very much a human motivation and ambition worth living for; it gives us a purpose if anything, as oppression and corruption calls for that within its victims — a bittersweet outlook! 

It’s honestly surprising how much I loved this too, because it is very much a piece of archetypal melodrama catered to an identical formula for every episode with its “in order to improve society we must work together to accomplish it” resolutions, and I will admit that that’s what’s holding me back ever so slightly from giving it a perfect score as it got slightly repetitive by the end and I desired a little more adversity in those regards like we get in episodes 3 & 5. But, in all fairness, Fassbinder’s execution here is so absolutely dialogue-detailed and candid with new wisdom to discuss in every single scene about human nature, perfectly acted and holy engaging in its characterizations, and consistently optimistic yet rightfully challenging to truly earn those moments that it actually warranted the numbing simplicities of the narrative’s familiar and convenient structuring. 

I’m very much for how supernatural the score can get in this mini-series too; it reminds me of Punch-Drunk Love a bit: replicating emotions in ways that feel unworldly, exaggerated, and surreal. 

Verdict: A

Rainer Werner Fassbinder Ranked

“Eights Hours Don’t Make a Day” is now available to stream on The Criterion Channel.

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