The Fan (1982)
“Er ist ein Star – sie erst 17 – Liebe in Trance …”
Director: Eckhart Schmidt
Cast: DÃ©sirÃ©e Nosbusch, Bodo Steiger, Simone Brahmann
Synopsis: The hero-worship that Simone has for a pop singer is built to a crescendo until she passes out when she finally sees him up-close in a crowd of fans pushing him for autographs.
Like many girls her age, pretty 17-year-old Simone (Desiree Nosbusch) has a crush on the latest teen pop sensation, a Kraftwerk-like singer known simply as ‘R’. But as Eckhardt Schmidt’s Der Fan unfolds we quickly come to realise that Simone’s fixation on her idol goes far beyond that of most ordinary girls. Each morning she accosts the local postman as he starts his round to see if R has responded to her letters to him. She believes they share a special bond, and that he loves her as much as she loves him, even though they’ve never met and he never responds to her letters. Although her romantic fantasies about R are harmless enough, her obsession begins to affect her school life and her relationship with her parents. Already something of a loner, Simone withdraws into a world that revolves only around her idol, and she decides to hitch-hike to Munich to meet him in person. Incredibly, not only does she manage to do this, her good looks are enough to win her an invitation to see him record his latest single for a TV pop show. However, when R takes her to a friend’s apartment, things take a decidedly dark and twisted turn.
Hugely controversial in Germany upon its release in 1982, Der Fan is something of a precursor to Takashi Miike’s Audition — although where the Japanese filmmaker’s work won plaudits, Schmidt’s was pilloried by the critics. It’s more art house than grind house, despite its reputation, and for an hour or so, it’s slow and dream-like, reflecting the romantic preoccupations of its teen protagonist. Dialogue is kept to a minimum, enhancing the film’s dreamlike qualities, but it means Simone remains a detached enigma impossible for the audience to understand.
Desiree Nosbusch, who was already a fresh-faced star in Germany when Der Fan was released, is strikingly pretty and is entirely convincing as a troubled teen despite being 27 when the film was released. Her good looks are necessary to the plot, but they also make the atrocity she commits in Der Fan’s final act all the more difficult to stomach simply because we’re conditioned to not expect such things of beauty to be capable of the deeds Simone commits.
Der Fan is no doubt far less shocking than it was back in 1982, even though it has acquired something of a cult reputation, and lacks the impact of Miike’s movie, thanks largely to the fact that it shies away from showing anything too graphic. Many viewers will be more preoccupied by Nosbusch’s prolonged nudity than they will by the criminal act she’s committing, and most of the time that the incident to which the entire movie builds was taking place, I was speculating about just how powerful German domestic electric carving knives really are…
(Reviewed 5th May 2014)