Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Birth: 31 May 1945, Bad Worishofen, Bavaria, Germany
Death: 10 June 1982, Munich, Bavaria, Germany (drug overdose)
"Above all, Rainer Werner Fassbinder was a rebel whose life and art was marked by gross contradiction. Openly homosexual, he married twice; one of his wives acted in his films and the other served as his editor. Accused variously by detractors of being anticommunist, male chauvinist, antiSemitic and even antigay, he completed 44 projects between 1966 and 1982, the majority of which can be characterized as highly intelligent social melodramas. His prodigious output was matched by a wild, self-destructive libertinage that earned him a reputation as the enfant terrible of the New German Cinema (as well as its central figure.) Known for his trademark leather jacket and grungy appearance, Fassbinder cruised the bar scene by night, looking for sex and drugs, yet he maintained a flawless work ethic by day. Actors and actresses recount disturbing stories of his brutality toward them, yet his pictures demonstrate his deep sensitivity to social misfits and his hatred of institutionalized violence. Some find his cinema needlessly controversial and avant-garde; others accuse him of surrendering to the Hollywood ethos. It is best said that he drew forth strong emotional reactions from all he encountered, both in his personal and professional lives, and this provocative nature can be experienced posthumously through reviewing his artistic legacy."
Fassbinder's cinema is full of Biberkopf's - victims of false consciousness. And the material of Berlin Alexanderplatz is prefigured throughout his films, whose recurrent subject is damaged lives and marginal existences - petty criminals, prostitutes, transvestites, immigrant workers, depressed housewives, and overweight workers at the end of their tether. More specifically, the harrowing slaughterhouse scenes in Berlin Alexanderplatz are anticipated by the slaughterhouse sequences in Jail Bait and In A Year with 13 Moons. But Berlin Alexanderplatz is more than a resumé of his main themes. It was the fulfillment - and the origin. . .
2. How is One to Live if One
Doesn't Want to Die?"
3. A Hammer Blow to the
Head Can Injure the Soul
4. A Handful of People in the
Depths of Silence
5. A Peaper with the Power of
6. Love Has Its Price
7. Remember - An Oath can
8. The Sun Warms the Skin,
but Burns it Sometimes Too
9. About the Etenities Between
the Many and the Few
10. Loneliness Tears Cracks of
Madness Even in Walls
11. Knowleddge is Power and
the Early Bird Catches the
12. The Serpent in the Soul of
13. The Out side and the Inside
and the Secret of Fear of
14. My Dream of the Dream of
Franz Biberkopf by Alfred
Doblin, An Epilogue
Susan Sontag: "Berlin Alexanderplatz made a huge impression on me - a moral impression. When I pass a beggar on the street, I always think now, maybe it's Franz Biberkopf. It changed the way I look at people. I can't anymore say, "Well, I couldn't know such a person."
Hanna Schygulla: "I mostly think of the child that person must have been."
S.S. "This is a character that you would think is hard to sympathize with, particularly for a woman. He commits terrible violence against women. But in some way, you don't judge him because you see how much he suffers and how vulnerable he is. Fassbinder's films make you sympathize with people you might not usually sympathize with. That's the deepest level of so many of his films. . ."
H.S. ". . . Rainer said that he felt like all the three characters in one. Biberkopf is always getting into disaster and still believes everything will come out fine, Reinhold is driven to be so destructive and he doesn't know why, and Mieze is ready to love everybody and there is no reason for it."
H.S. "Lamprecht - who plays Franz Biberkopf - resembles Rainer a bit. Rainer said this novel saved his life, when he was an adolescent and so conflicted about being gay. I never quite understood all this, but he found that love with no reason and no purpose was his ideal. . . . . he was so afraid of being exploited, maybe even of being the exploiter, and he was always into this mechanism. He was looking for something that was beyond comprehension and he found it in these two characters.
You swore, Franz Biberkopf, to stay decent. You led a shitty life, ran off the rails. You killed Ida and did time for it. Terrible. And now? Nothing's really changed, Ida's called Mieze, that's all, you lost an arm, careful, you'll end up being a lush, and everything'll start all over again, only worse, and that'll be the end of you . . . Bullshit, can I help it? Did I ask to be a pimp? Bullshit, I say. I've done all I could, all that's humanly possible. . . You'll end up in jail, Franz, you'll get a knife in your belly. Let them try. They'll first get a taste of mine.
"How to describe Raben's music? It was as bittersweet as a hurdy-gurdy played on a street corner in Lang's Berlin, or as melancholy as a tango in a Parisian brothel. He was modern, but only in the sense that early 20th-century composers like Stravinsky, Bartok and Kurt Weill are considered modern."