Fassbinder (The German Film Festival)
Margit Carstensen, Hanna Schygulla, Irm Hermann, Juliane Lorenz
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…revelatory, melancholy, moving, and occasionally poetic.
Rainer Werner Fassbinder was only 37 when he died of a drug overdose in 1982, yet he left behind a staggering 44 films and TV series. These bald statistics say something about his drive and focus, but it’s the extraordinary quality of the end results for which he will be remembered. He was one of Europe’s greatest post-war directors – and a “productive, controversial, and obsessive” one, to quote one of the talking heads here – and this documentary is, inevitably, fascinating.
Fassbinder was, by all accounts, a very intense man, and he could evidently be domineering, selfish, and exploitative – yet he also inspired ferocious loyalty and was dearly loved by many of his colleagues. The aforementioned intensity spilled over into his cinematic work, and is reflected even in the very titles of some of his movies: Fear Eats The Soul, Love Is Colder Than Death, Beware Of A Holy Whore, and so on.
Fassbinder tells us a great deal about its subject’s (rather torrid and hyperactive) private life, and his professional M.O, but somewhat less about the actual content of the films. There’s a passable amount of that, though, and a great many clips, which are guaranteed to make you want to see – or see again – his masterpieces. This is a linear doco, devoid of voice-overs but replete with candid recollections by many of Fassbinder’s colleagues, notably Hanna Schygulla, the star of the brilliant The Marriage Of Maria Braun, plus lots of great archival material, and footage of interviews with the man himself. It’s revelatory, melancholy, moving, and occasionally poetic.