Jan 27, 2008


Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Whity is an unflattering tribute to the American Western (and America in general). The film centers around the son of a slave master(who also is a slave). This sad fellow goes by the name of “Whity.” Mulatto Whity is a very conflicting character that has no clue where he stands. He is basically an unofficial member of the Nicholson slave owner family.

The Nicholson family is comprised of Ben Nicholson (the father), his young wife Katherine, homosexual son Frank(played by Uli “shot on video horror and straight to DVD” Lommel), and retarded Davy. Whity doesn’t quite fit in with his family. He is more of a tool of the family as they use him to carry out their dirty and conspiratorial deeds. They eventually even inquire Whity to kill fellow family members. Whity is most the most innocent of the deranged bunch.

Whity has a very theater like look and feel (like most of Fassbinder’s films). Pale white make-up makes the Nicholsons look like white ghosts. I guess whites really are dead when they can’t do their own work. Although Whity has minimal set design, it effectively portrays a decayed and dead society with its lack of color. Whity is a REAL drama that tugs at all undesired emotions. Whity is truly a lost soul.

Gay incest also appears in Whity. Was this one of Fassbinder’s many weird sexual fantasies? Probably since Fassbinder considered Whity to be one of his most personal films. Fassbinder was without doubt one of the bravest filmmakers of the German New Wave(maybe even more so than Werner Herzog). Fassbinder at the very least was the most darkly dramatic.

Whity is the ultimate anti-western. The Western is most certainly not one of my favorite genres. John Wayne was a coward that never fought it any war. I also think that Mr. John Ford was one of many overrated Hollywood directors. The Hollywood American West is one of the biggest myths about America. The slave owning element of Whity brings reality to that myth and smashes it. It makes me wonder if Fassbinder was a fan of the american “western.”

-Ty E


brandon said...

Watch 'The Searchers' or 'Man Who Shot Liberty Valance' or the lesser-known 'Sergeant Rutledge' (starring Woody Strode!) if you want to see John Ford (and Wayne) break the myth of the West as devastating as Fassbinder does in 'Whity'.

Anonymous said...

I will admit those two films are John Wayne's best films but I would never like them as much as Whity.