On Laetare Sunday, March 24, 1476—the day winter is driven out and summer invited in—Hans Böhm (Michael König), a shepherd known for his musical performances, burns his drum in front of the assembled peasants and speaks to them of his revelation: the Mother of God has appeared and instructed him to preach to the people. Soon his preaching moves from the religious to the political, and thousands of peasants from Bavaria, Swabia, Hesse, Thuringia, and Saxony journey to see him. But while his support increases, Böhm is filled with an inarticulate dissatisfaction that can be absolved only by embracing his own self-destruction. Fassbinder links revolutionary tumult with performance art experiments and the simple grace of sheepherding in a film set on the trash-strewn streets and junkyards of Berlin in 1970. In a gesture of rebelliousness and oddball conflation of modern decadence (and youth culture) with medieval religious art, Fassbinder himself plays a character called the Black Monk, dressed in dark sunglasses and a slick black leather jacket.