Lilo Pempeit, dressed as a bourgeoise German lady, is counting the money she has withdrawn from the bank as Walter Kranz backs into her and causes her to drop it. As he grabs what he can and quickly heads off, the bank manager, who like everyone else in this daft world is impressed that Kranz is a poet, tells her this is so: ‘a poet,’ he tells her on being robbed; ‘it doesn’t hurt so much then.’
The bank is as it happens, about the most sober place that Kranz visits throughout, and it is clearly a place of life and death. When the bank manager delivers news about the Kranz account, it is no means realistically played – it is played as if Kranz were being told a grave medical reality. What is reassuring is what a safe place the bank is for the insane poet – society it appears is prepared to indulge artists their crimes, because artists are children and they are to be indulged – and we see a lot of that indulgence in Satansbraten, which is about no less than the function of art in a bourgeois society.
The only one to buck this trend is Luise, his wife. She alone is aware that art and the search for the sublime are trifles in comparison to the cancer of mortal illness, such as she has developed. Kranz and the others can’t see this – doubtless illness would also be an excuse for them to consider the sublime, but Helen Vita drops into a rare (for this film) moment of naturalistic acting to break the news.
Meanwhile, Pempeit stares admiringly after Kurt Raab, a puzzle on her mind: is this robbery really accepatble? As Kranz makes off the answer is clearly yes; Satansbraten is merely a retelling of his crimes and vanities, and as this one is overt robbery, it's simply a metaphor for how the middle classes view art and artists; at least according to Fassbinder.