By Tim Purtell
Updated May 26, 1995 at 04:00 AM EDT

Here’s a dilemma that could only happen in the late 20th century: A homely butcher named Erwin (Volker Spengler) impulsively undergoes a sex-change operation to win the man of his dreams, only to be dropped after the deed is done. Writer-director Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s treatment of Erwin’s identity crisis mixes postmodern satire and humor with Douglas Sirk-style pathos. Holding it all together is Spengler’s performance, which reaches beyond camp to the realm of tragedy. New to video, In a Year of 13 Moons is a must-see, though the squeamish should be warned: Spengler’s soliloquy at a meat factory, surrounded by slaughtered cattle, is disquieting, to say the least. B+