Bethina Nielson

Written by Bethina Nielson

Modified & Updated: 05 Mar 2024

Sherman Smith

Reviewed by Sherman Smith


Welcome to the sensational world of one of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s most thought-provoking works – “In a Year with 13 Moons”. Released in 1978, this German film encapsulates the complexities of human emotions, identity, and societal norms with a touch of surrealism. Drawing inspiration from Fassbinder’s own tumultuous personal life, “In a Year with 13 Moons” delves deep into themes of love, loss, and self-discovery.

In this article, we will uncover 48 fascinating facts about this enigmatic movie, shedding light on its production details, critical reception, and the impact it had on the world of cinema. So, grab your popcorn and get ready to delve into the mesmerizing world of “In a Year with 13 Moons”!

Key Takeaways:

  • “In a Year with 13 Moons” is a German drama film that explores the struggles of a transgender woman, challenging societal norms and expectations. It’s a thought-provoking and emotionally impactful cinematic masterpiece.
  • The movie’s raw performances, haunting atmosphere, and deep exploration of identity make it a timeless and relevant piece of art, shedding light on the ongoing struggles faced by transgender individuals in society.
Table of Contents

Fact 1

In a Year with 13 Moons is a German drama film directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder.

Fact 2

The movie was released in 1978 and is considered one of Fassbinder’s most personal and groundbreaking works.

Fact 3

In a Year with 13 Moons tells the story of Elvira Weishaupt, portrayed by Volker Spengler, a transgender woman on a journey of self-discovery.

Fact 4

Fassbinder was inspired to make the film after the suicide of his former lover, Armin Meier, who was also a transgender woman.

Fact 5

The title refers to the fact that every few years there is an extra full moon in the lunar calendar, symbolizing the unpredictable and mysterious nature of Elvira’s life.

Fact 6

The movie explores themes of identity, gender, and isolation, shedding light on the struggles faced by transgender individuals in society.

Fact 7

In a Year with 13 Moons is known for its raw and emotional performances, particularly Volker Spengler’s captivating portrayal of Elvira.

Fact 8

The film’s cinematography, done by Rainer Werner Fassbinder himself under the pseudonym “Michael Ballhaus,” is visually striking and thought-provoking.

Fact 9

Despite the film’s critical acclaim, it was not a commercial success upon its initial release.

Fact 10

However, over time, In a Year with 13 Moons has gained a cult following and is now considered a classic of German cinema.

Fact 11

Fassbinder’s meticulous attention to detail is evident throughout the film, from the costumes to the set design, creating an immersive and authentic experience for the viewers.

Fact 12

The movie raises questions about societal norms and the treatment of marginalized communities, challenging viewers to reconsider their own biases.

Fact 13

In a Year with 13 Moons received mixed reviews upon its release, with some critics praising its daring approach while others found it too bleak and intense.

Fact 14

The film’s nonlinear narrative adds to its complexity, as it weaves together past and present to reveal the layers of Elvira’s tumultuous life.

Fact 15

One of the remarkable aspects of the movie is its honest and unflinching portrayal of Elvira’s struggles, avoiding sensationalism or exploitation.

Fact 16

In a Year with 13 Moons showcases Fassbinder’s signature style of using long takes and stationary shots, creating a sense of unease and detachment.

Fact 17

The film explores the concept of identity as something fluid and ever-evolving, challenging societal norms and expectations.

Fact 18

In a Year with 13 Moons was a deeply personal project for Fassbinder, reflecting his own experiences and emotions.

Fact 19

The movie’s haunting score, composed by Peer Raben, adds to the overall atmosphere of melancholy and introspection.

Fact 20

In a Year with 13 Moons is not a typical narrative-driven film, but rather an exploration of the human condition and the search for identity.

Fact 21

The film’s dialogue is sharp and thought-provoking, leaving a lasting impact on viewers long after the credits roll.

Fact 22

In a Year with 13 Moons is often cited as an example of the New German Cinema movement, characterized by its artistic and unconventional storytelling.

Fact 23

The movie’s themes of loneliness and alienation are universal, resonating with audiences of all backgrounds.

Fact 24

Fassbinder’s commitment to authenticity is evident in the extensive research and interviews he conducted with transgender individuals while preparing for the film.

Fact 25

Volker Spengler’s performance in the movie is widely regarded as one of the greatest in cinematic history, capturing the complexities of Elvira’s character with remarkable depth.

Fact 26

In a Year with 13 Moons challenges traditional notions of gender and sexuality, forcing viewers to confront their own prejudices and preconceived notions.

Fact 27

The film’s non-linear structure adds to its emotional impact, allowing the audience to piece together Elvira’s fragmented past and present.

Fact 28

In a Year with 13 Moons is a testament to Fassbinder’s unique vision as a filmmaker, pushing boundaries and provoking thought with each scene.

Fact 29

Fassbinder’s use of close-ups in the film creates an intimate connection between the characters and the audience, amplifying the emotional resonance.

Fact 30

In a Year with 13 Moons is a film that demands multiple viewings to fully grasp its complexities and nuances.

Fact 31

The movie’s examination of identity extends beyond gender, delving into themes of class, power, and societal expectations.

Fact 32

Volker Spengler’s physical transformation for the role of Elvira is a testament to his dedication as an actor, embodying the character both physically and emotionally.

Fact 33

In a Year with 13 Moons raises important questions about the consequences of societal rejection and the search for self-acceptance.

Fact 34

The film’s unconventional narrative structure mirrors Elvira’s fragmented state of mind, creating a sense of disorientation and unease.

Fact 35

In a Year with 13 Moons is a challenging and thought-provoking film that refuses to offer easy answers or resolutions.

Fact 36

The movie’s haunting atmosphere is accentuated by Fassbinder’s use of shadows and natural lighting, creating a visually stunning experience.

Fact 37

In a Year with 13 Moons is a meditation on the nature of identity and the impact of societal expectations on individual lives.

Fact 38

Fassbinder’s direction in the film is masterful, capturing the smallest nuances of emotion and allowing the actors to fully embody their characters.

Fact 39

In a Year with 13 Moons is a film that demands active engagement from the audience, provoking introspection and self-reflection.

Fact 40

The movie’s themes and messages are still relevant today, highlighting the ongoing struggles faced by transgender individuals in society.

Fact 41

In a Year with 13 Moons received recognition at various international film festivals, further cementing its status as a cinematic masterpiece.

Fact 42

The film’s powerful and emotionally charged scenes leave a lasting impression on viewers, eliciting both empathy and contemplation.

Fact 43

In a Year with 13 Moons serves as a reminder of the importance of empathy and understanding towards individuals who exist outside societal norms.

Fact 44

The movie’s exploration of identity and self-discovery resonates with audiences of all backgrounds, transcending cultural and geographical boundaries.

Fact 45

In a Year with 13 Moons is a film that challenges conventional storytelling techniques, opting for a more immersive and introspective approach.

Fact 46

Fassbinder’s decision to cast Volker Spengler, a cisgender man, as Elvira adds an additional layer of complexity to the film’s exploration of gender identity.

Fact 47

In a Year with 13 Moons is a movie that stays with you long after you’ve watched it, leaving a lasting impact on your thoughts and emotions.

Fact 48

The film’s open-ended conclusion invites viewers to interpret Elvira’s journey in their own unique way, sparking discussions and debates about the nature of identity and self-acceptance.


In a Year with 13 Moons is a thought-provoking and emotionally charged film that delves into themes of identity, gender, and acceptance. Through its compelling storytelling and powerful performances, the movie captivates audiences and raises important questions about society’s treatment of marginalized individuals.This German drama, directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, offers a unique perspective on the transgender experience. With its raw and unflinching portrayal of protagonist Elvira’s journey, the film challenges traditional notions of gender and highlights the complexities of personal identity.In a Year with 13 Moons leaves a lasting impact on viewers, provoking discussions about societal norms, empathy, and the search for one’s true self. Its hauntingly beautiful cinematography and poignant screenplay create an immersive viewing experience that lingers long after the credits roll.Whether you’re a fan of arthouse cinema or simply curious about thought-provoking storytelling, In a Year with 13 Moons is a film that demands your attention. It’s a mesmerizing exploration of the human condition that will leave you contemplating life’s deepest questions.


1. What is the plot of In a Year with 13 Moons?

At its core, In a Year with 13 Moons follows the story of Elvira, a transgender woman who embarks on a journey of self-discovery after her lover’s rejection. The film delves into Elvira’s emotional turmoil, examining themes of identity, acceptance, and the quest for belonging.

2. Who directed In a Year with 13 Moons?

In a Year with 13 Moons was directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, a renowned German filmmaker known for his provocative and unconventional storytelling style. Fassbinder’s unique vision shines through in this thought-provoking and emotionally charged drama.

3. Are there any notable performances in the film?

Absolutely! Volker Spengler delivers a mesmerizing performance as Elvira, capturing the emotional depth and complexity of the character. His portrayal is both vulnerable and powerful, making it one of the standout performances in the movie.

4. What themes does the film explore?

In a Year with 13 Moons delves into a wide range of themes, including gender identity, acceptance, societal norms, and the search for personal authenticity. It challenges viewers to question their own beliefs and prejudices, sparking important conversations about marginalized communities.

5. Is In a Year with 13 Moons a film worth watching?

Without a doubt! If you’re interested in thought-provoking storytelling that pushes boundaries and tackles important social issues, In a Year with 13 Moons is a must-watch. Its raw and emotional narrative, coupled with stellar performances, makes it a truly captivating cinematic experience.

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