This dark-as-pitch comedy about Geesche Gottfried (Margit Carstensen), a widow from the city of Bremen who over 15 years killed as many people using butter laced with arsenic, is one of Fassbinder’s more ambitious stage-to-television experiments. Gottfried’s victims, most of them men, are those who have sought to control and abuse her. In her crushing alienation from her loved ones and her dauntless determination to shape the course of her life, Geesche anticipates later Fassbinder heroines like Maria Braun or Emma Küsters. Carstensen’s performance is rooted in a longing for vengeance, with splendid moments of outright hysteria. Fassbinder sets it all on a pristine white platform, with a giant screen projecting images of nature in the background, including an ironically rose-pink sunset and appropriately blood-red sea.

  • Directed By Rainer Werner Fassbinder
  • 1972
  • West Germany
  • German with English subtitles
  • 16mm
  • 87 minutes