This 1970 allegory about allegory veers from intellectual exercise into emotional exhortation and blurs the line between theater and film. Nesting complex visual strategies within simpler ones, writer-directors Rainer Werner Fassbinder (who plays a monk in a motorcycle jacket) and Michael Fengler present a series of scenes that demonstrate the martyrdom of a shepherd, who's also a performance artist and revolutionary, after his followers persuade him to abandon his sheep and take up residence in the home of a bourgeois chick who's got a big crush on him. The story alternates between this troupe—allegorical characters within the fiction of the movie as well as the street-theater pieces they perform—and a clan of ecclesiastical and royal types who seem to spend most of their time choreographing decadent scenarios in elaborate interiors. Amazingly simple editing and sound design—most scenes are complete in one shot and use only one or two sound effects or just music in addition to the dialogue—create a minimally realist and hypertheatrical vision of class conflict and potential doom.
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