Fine Young Cannibal – Rediscovering ‘Der Fan’ / ‘Trance’ (West Germany 1982 – 92 mins)

Posted in Rediscover by - April 09, 2015
Fine Young Cannibal – Rediscovering ‘Der Fan’ / ‘Trance’ (West Germany 1982 – 92 mins)

There haven’t been many movies that I’ve watched where at the end I find myself thinking “Well, I wasn’t expecting that!” The last moments of Carl Reiner’s 1970 jet-black comedy ‘Where’s Poppa?’ was one of them and, to an even greater degree, the 1982 German movie ‘Der Fan’. I thought it was going to be the age-old tale of a fan stalking their idol, with lurid consequences. This movie certainly had consequences, just not quite the ones I expected.

Unhappy teenager Simone (Désirée Nosbusch) idolizes new pop sensation R (Bobo Staiger) and spends her days dreaming of him while waiting for a reply to her fan letters, which never come. Finally meeting him, they strike up a brief friendship which leads to Simone spending the night with R in his lavish apartment. When he leaves the following day and upon telling Simone that he doesn’t really care for her, she takes drastic measures to prevent R from leaving her forever.

Talk about things taking a (very) dark turn in the third act. It’s hard to talk about this movie without revealing any surprises, so I’m basically going to put it bluntly (Big Spoiler Alert!) ‘Der Fan’ is about a girl who finally meets her idol, sleeps with him, kills him and then eats him. If I had known this going in, I don’t think I would have sat through it, thinking it would be just another typical exploitation piece. I’m glad I stuck with it though, as although it’s a disturbing movie, it does have an arty feel to it which raises it above the splatter genre. It also restrains from showing too much gore, though enough to see what lengths Simone goes to, to complete her ‘journey’.

I thought 16 year old Désirée Nosbusch was perfect as the troubled teen, and her quietly powerful performance kept me glued to the screen. Having given up on her school and home life, Nosbusch’s alienated teen spends her days wandering aimlessly, making daily visits to the post office, awaiting a letter from her idol. Bobo Staiger was also convincing as the shallow singer and, with his New Wave group “Rheingold”, provided the excellent and catchy rock-synth soundtrack. Pretty cult starlet Simone Brahmann (from ‘Divine Emanuelle’) also appears as R’s jealous secretary.

The script is pretty weak but thankfully there are several prolonged scenes without much dialogue, although there is an annoyingly long video-shoot midway through which does slow the picture down. Désirée Nosbusch was unhappy with how the movie turned out and various legal battles followed, while Nosbusch tried (unsuccessfully) to get the movie withdrawn. Director Eckhart Schmidt has worked mostly in the documentary field which may explain why the visual moments work better than many of the dialogue scenes. I think the original title; ‘Trance’, is more fitting and goes some way to explain the state of Simone’s character in the shocking third act.

I think ‘Der Fan’ is a very good cult movie, but not one that I’d often return to. It’s disturbing and chilling and one that I’d only recommend to those into controversial and thought-provoking movies. It’s definitely an acquired taste (excuse the pun!) but now knowing what the subject matter is, you may want to give it a go, if only for Désirée Nosbusch’s startling performance.

This post was written by

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *