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World on a Wire (The Criterion Collection) (Blu-Ray)

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Product Details

  • Format: Full Screen, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: German
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Studio: Criterion
  • Release Date: Feb. 21 2012
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • ASIN: B0068CEGB8
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #36,105 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)

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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By DaViDmaniac on Aug. 9 2012
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Œuvre mineure du grand réalisateur allemand qui a malheureusement beaucoup vieilli malgré certaines idées intéressantes. Jeu du comédien principal (sous-James Bond) détonant complètement avec le reste de la distribution. Un Fassbinder à ne pas classer parmi ses classiques. Fass-been there, done that, bought the DVD...
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 11 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
before the Matrix, there was the World on a Wire Feb. 23 2013
By Serkan Okar - Published on
Based on the American science fiction novel, Simulacron-3 (1964) by Daniel F. Galouye, World on a Wire is about virtual reality, world created inside a computer program, a pre-cursor to the Matrix. I believe this is the first movie adaptation of Simulacron-3, although there have been many sci-fi movies with similar themes since then. The Thirteenth Floor (1999) is another adaptation of the same novel (oddly, 1999 is also the year for the Matrix and The Dark City, another great sci-fi movie).

World on a Wire was made in 1972 for German TV. It is made of two parts each one is aboout an hour and half long. The movie has a very distinct visual style and atmosphere; the interior shots, camera angles, the locations, actors are very 1970 German.

I like this movie a lot because of its different style but it is probably not for anyone's taste. Even though the subject matter is sci-fi, there are no spectacular special effects or action scenes which are typical of Hollywood productions. However, I think the movie overall does a pretty good job of creating an eerie atmosphere and paranoid feeling of the world not being real.

I was especially amazed by how some of the scenes and ideas seem to be pre-cursor to the Matrix. For instance, the subjects sit in a chair with wires hooked up to their heads and they get downloaded to the computer world (you may think of that as the matrix) and if they want to exit the computer world, they use a phone booth. Sounds familiar?

I also like the love affair depicted in the movie; in my opinion it works so much better than the affair between Neo and Trinity in the matrix.

I recommend this movie for any sci-fi fan who can appreciate foreign movies with unique styles even if they lack CGI and spectacular special effects.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
World on a Wire Blu-ray Review Feb. 29 2012
By izay142 - Published on

The only science fiction movie that German filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder ever made was this long-lost three-and-a-half hour long film made for German Television. It has traces of "The Prisoner" to it, along with influences of Stanley Kubrick, Kurt Vonnegut and Philip K. Dick. The satirical look at the futuristic world of computer technology was incredibly ahead of its time in 1973, and is a recently rediscovered gem for film fans to now experience on high definition Blu-ray.

The film's storyline is simple, and even familiar in the sense that these themes have been touched upon by countless filmmakers from David Cronenberg to Steven Spielberg ever since. Fred Stiller (Klaus Löwitsch) is a cybernetics engineer who is responsible for the creation of a complex computer world of virtual reality cities and people. It is like Sim City, but the cybernetic people aren't aware that the life they are living isn't actually reality, but virtual reality which can be visited though a machine.

When one of Stiller's co-workers dies suddenly, there are suspicions of foul play. As he investigates this mishap, a deeper corporate conspiracy is discovered, and Stiller begins to doubt his own existence and reality. There are hints that he may actually be living in one of the computer worlds himself, unable to trust the world around him. The labyrinth of computer worlds makes it impossible to know what--if anything--is reality. We follow Stiller on a mad escape from authorities who may very well be programmed to find and destroy him, as well as nearly every other citizen. As the most wanted man in his world, there seem to be higher powers preventing Stiller from finding the truth.

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
An intriguing sci-fi masterpiece April 2 2013
By P. Black - Published on
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As a film buff, I have had a chance to see a number of Rainer Werner Fassbinder's works. He was clearly a genius and I have enjoyed a majority of the ones I've seen. However, I have never found myself utterly fascinated with any of the films as much as this one, World on a Wire. It helps that I love sci-fi in all its forms, from escapism to more serious works. This definitely falls into the latter category; the film that it strangely most reminds me of is the original Russian version of Solaris (and fans of that film should definitely check this out). It shares a (somewhat) slow pace, cinematography and visuals that are quite striking at times, and a quite serious examination of seriously fascinating material. The story concerns a computer project in which a virtual world, complete with simulated individuals who don't know they're artificial, is created with the aims of predicting trends and needs of the future. One leader of the project starts to have suspicions about the project and uncovers a conspiracy involving it. The main twist of the film will probably be figured out by most viewers before the characters do. However, I think for most viewers this will not hurt the film. For me, even after several viewings, the film retains the fascination that it had the first time I watched it. Most interestingly, the film's ending has become increasingly more intriguing, as my interpretation of it seems to change every time I watch the film. All in all, a must watch for anyone who loves sci-fi of serious ideas.
Science Fiction, not SiFi Feb. 28 2015
By M. Smith - Published on
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"World on a Wire" is a 1973 two-part film made for German TV by director Rainer Werner Fassbinder concerning the meaning of reality. It is science fiction in that it deals with people and ideas set against a scientific or technological background - not with space monsters.
A government research institute is attempting to build a simulated world inside a computer and populate it with artificial people, with the idea that social and economic problems can be simulated via the community inside the computer. With the project nearing completion, the project director, Professor Vollmer, begins acting strangely during a meeting with a government minister, and dies mysteriously shortly thereafter. But, not before revealing to a friend that he has discovered a secret connected with the project -- something no one is suppose to know about! Vollmer's assistant, Fred Stiller, is promoted to Director and told to complete the project quickly.
Stiller soon learns about Vollmer's claim to have found something wrong, and suspects his death was not accidental. Stiller looks and acts more like a 70s detective than a computer scientist: hard drinking, heavy smoking, and tailor-made suits. In fact, he spends much more time on his investigation than he does actually working on the project.
In a subplot, the Institute's overall director, Siskins, a polished, well-manicured money man, is planning to sell the project's data to private industry rather than release it to the public.
There is a major revelation at the end of Part One, with enough twists and turns in Part Two to keep you guessing right up to the end. In fact, the film gets better and better with subsequent viewings as you can appreciate how skillfully the story is peppered with clues - even the acting style itself is a clue.
I recommend it highly with a few words of warning. The film has the usual polish one expects from a Criterion restoration, but was shot on 16mm film and may be too grainy for some tastes, and since it was made for 70s TV it is not wide screen. Also, it is in German with English subtitles, but no English soundtrack.
We are all Simulcrum. June 29 2014
By halbregg - Published on
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Oddly prescient film. Shades of Philip K. Dick, but mostly the nearly paranoid imagination of Fassbinder. Brilliantly made, thoughtfully scored. A necessary addition to any Science Fiction film library.

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