Rio das Mortes Review
By Christopher Null
Pretty straightforward for a Fassbinder movie, Rio das Mortes, despite the Spanish title, never gets out of Germany.
The film involves two friends (Michael König and Günther Kaufmann) who decide they want to sail a Peruvian river in search of a fabled treasure. The journey will take a lot of money, so they proceed to do everything in their power to raise it. They borrow. They work overtime. They try to find investors for a hypothetical cotton plantation. They even sell the car -- a nondescript sequence that consumes 10 of the film's 84 minutes. Eventually, a girlfriend (Fassbinder regular Hanna Schygulla) gets wind of the plan and tries to stop it.
Despite its short running time, the film is padded with protracted scenes like the aforementioned car sale, dancing in a bar, talking on the phone, and reading aloud about, of all things, the life of Lana Turner. They jabber endlessly about her past -- even Schygulla is unable to hide her obvious boredom when one speech drags on for five minutes or more. There are few moments of real drama in Rio das Mortes, but it's such a trifle you can forgive some of its flaws. There's not a lot of depth, and there's just not much to care about. In the end, how can you criticize a movie that really isn't about anything? Less forgiveable is the new release's DVD transfer, which looks like a fourth-generation videotape copy.
Overall, it's safe to skip this minor entry in the Fassbinder litany.
Facts and Figures
In Theaters: Monday 15th February 1971
Production compaines: Janus Film und Fernsehen, Antiteater-X-Film
Cast & Crew