Rainer Werner Fassbinder's sweeping 16-hour-long drama Berlin Alexanderplatz is an adaptation of the novel by Alfred Doblin. Franz Biberkopf (Günter Lamprecht) is released from prison as the film opens; he had been jailed for four years after killing his girlfriend Ida. Franz becomes involved with Lina (Elisabeth Trissenaar) and promises to no longer break the law. The 1920s German economy is horrible, and Franz has difficulty providing for himself and his partner. He goes into business with Lina's uncle, who eventually betrays Franz, sending him into a serious downward spiral. Franz becomes involved with a criminal named Reinhold (Gottfried John), a womanizer who convinces Franz to get rid of the woman Reinhold himself has discarded. After a botched robbery, Franz loses his arm in a car accident. With assistance from his ex-girlfriend Eva (Fassbinder regular Hanna Schygulla) and her pimp, Franz recovers and returns to the city. He starts to make some money by acting as a pimp for a prostitute named Mieze (Barbara Sukowa), but Reinhold returns and kills her. The authorities arrest Franz for the murder. The film ends with Franz in a mental hospital, a prime candidate to join the ranks of the upstart National Socialist party.
by Perry Seibert synopsis