Ingrid Caven came to represent something both scary and desirable in the films of RW Fassbinder; and she is also a woman who is less likely than any other Fassbinder actress to be a victim of the generally oppressive situations the director creates. Or maybe not. In the second scene of Satansbraten, Lisa is revealed as something of a pawn, usable by several men, and her domestic life sees her scratching herself compulsively in the bathroom, in between fixing chunky contemporary tape playing devices. The comedy in this film is coming from strange places, random places, and although it is almost always ridiculous, it is played with an earnest that makes it funny. Just about everyone in the film behaves like a 4 year old at some point, and Caven is especially funny, jumping up and down when angry with Kranz.
Caven is so good at playing world-weary, that her apartment, where Kranz irons her underwear (lovingly) while she works on her magnetophone, is generally a relief from the shouting matches elsewhere in the film. Caven is indeed close to sane in terms of the film, only it is her lifestyle and opinions that are profiled as mad – her Marxism and her sexual freedom. In fact, probably the scene that makes me laugh the most in Satansbraten is when Caven explains why her tape player isn’t working. The way she talks about the fast forward being jammed, she speaks as if she knows nothing of what she is doing – or better still – is making the greatest science of this trivial device. Her character is so shallow that she is able to provide an alibi for the murdering Kranz, by arguing to all that the murder of Kranz's middle class mistress was a revolutionary act.
When Ingrid Caven meets to have tea and cake and discuss revolution with her mother the parody is complete. All it needs is for the crazy poet to enter their midst and declaim his verse in the polite company of the coffee house. Amazingly, when Kranz arrives, we see he still has a following among the Bourgeois ladies of a certain age. He begins his recital and it all seems to be going quite well — so he becomes louder and louder, more the orator, more the guy ruining the party for everyone, until he is on a chair and being asked to calm down.
When Lisa enjoys a pastoral moment with Kranz their relationship seems quite normal in comparison to everything else – and the music indicates a certain tenderness between them too – I love how she is wearing her curlers in the park – it is just silly. Kranz says tenderly that he wants to hurt her – but it is Kranz’s honest expression of love – it’s how he loves, by hurting.
It’s hard to take anything definite from the end of the film, where a few things are heaped upon one another in succession, to triumphant march music which signified to the audience that they will be leaving the madhouse too, in minutes. But whatever she has been before, Lisa played by Ingrid Caven is a woman and so immediately takes over from Luise, he two main occupations being to work in the kitchen and to chase Kranz for money.