Whity, 1971 - ★★★★½

Whity, 1971 - ★★★★½


"Frank's sick, Davy's sick and Katherine, Katherine's an hyena."

- Benjamin Nicholson (Ron Randell)

..:: Machismovision: Wow The West Was Fun - Film #19 ::..

Samuel King aka Whity is the illegitimate son and butler of decadent master Benjamin Nicholson. He should be living a relatively carefree existence unfortunately being black in the white dominated west is tough.

'Whity' is one of Rainer Werner Fassbinder's least respected movies which is a shame in many ways, yet understandable in others. I've been sitting on this film for weeks now fully aware it was the krazy krauts diatribe on slavery... but holy fuck its far from some poncing around civil rights rights issues, attempt to craft a do gooder picture (which was the rage during that era). Its a savage button pusher shouting at the social elite whites 'your a sick dying breed, and I'm gonna take your daughters'. I'd have loved to have seen reactions to this back then. Hell no wonder it sank and was hardly seen for decades.

The film Itself isn't really a western outside of being set in a western frontier town, its more akin to a socially aware family saga (hell theres even shades of Dark Shadows Gothic thrown in here). Actings fine especially from Ulli Lommel as the sweet homosexual transsexual Frank, Katrin Schaake as the whore wife Katherine and of course Robert Downey Jnr erm Günther Kaufmann as the title character Whity.

I can see why its not a loved movie, its extremely pedestrian, rips up genre conventions its pretentious but lacks the refinement to make the arts wankers gush. Fassbinder could have made the movie to please either of those cinema goers, but instead he produced a film that mirrors its character 'Whity' perfectly - ie an unwanted bastard of mixed heritage (and you know what, I love him for doing).

[Personal Reasons For Remembering]

Just keep your eyes on the sets for eggs, babies and rebirth symbols hehe Fassbinder was so ahead of the pack for throwing in subtle irrelevant details. Wonderful cinematography from Scorsese regular Michael Ballhaus, if theres a downside to the film for me its that there wasn't more external scenes. The soundtracks also wonderful but many OST heads claim to be one of Peer Raben's worst, all I know is I loved the opening song that sounded like Arthur Lee of Love.

Originally taken from Letterboxd

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