Despair (film)

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Despair, film poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Written by Tom Stoppard (screenplay)
Vladimir Nabokov (novel)
Starring Dirk Bogarde
Andréa Ferréol
Klaus Löwitsch
Volker Spengler
Music by Peer Raben
Cinematography Michael Ballhaus
Edited by Reginald Beck[1][2]
Juliane Lorenz
Franz Walsch
Distributed by Filmverlag der Autoren (West Germany)
New Line Cinema (USA)
Release dates
1978 (West Germany)
1979 (USA)
Running time
Country West Germany
Language English

Despair is a 1978 film directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder and starring Dirk Bogarde, based on the novel of the same name by Vladimir Nabokov. It was entered into the 1978 Cannes Film Festival.[3]

Similarly to the novel, the tone of the film is ironic. The plot is mostly similar to the novel, although one of the key characters is significantly altered in the adaptation.


Hermann Hermann is a successful entrepreneur in the 1930s Germany. As the Nazis gradually rise to power, Hermann, who is a Russian émigré, becomes increasingly frightened and mentally unstable. His attempts at leaving the country are accompanied by symptoms of madness, the most vivid being his belief that he found his exact double, although the person in question differs from him in every respect. He creates an elaborate plan that would allow him to flee to Switzerland, but it soon becomes unclear whether his voyage leads him to a neutral country or merely allows him to take refuge in his madness. [4]


Home media[edit]

Despair was released to region 1 DVD and Blu-Ray in 2011.[5][6]


  1. ^ Some sources do not credit Beck's editing, but the listing submitted to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences for Academy Award consideration does include him as an editor. The listing does not include Franz Walsch, a pseudonym for Fassbinder, who is often credited as an editor, but it does include Fassbinder. See "Index to Motion Picture Credits: Despair". Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. Retrieved 2015-09-30. 
  2. ^ Le Cain, Maximilian (December 2003). "Dreams of Fassbinder: An Interview with Juliane Lorenz". Senses of Cinema (29). But I learned editing that night… We really created the film anew in one night because Rainer had an English editor, Reginald Beck, who started the editing but they didn’t get along. I took it over and we created a new story. 
  3. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Despair". Retrieved 2009-05-12. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Despair (DVD (region 1)). Olive Films. 2011. OCLC 722924420.  Restoration by Bavaria Media in co-operation with Cinepostproduction.
  6. ^ Despair (Blu-Ray (region 1)). Olive Films. 2011. OCLC 800429901.  Restoration by Bavaria Media in co-operation with Cinepostproduction.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]