Word association. When you hear the name Rainer Werner Fassbinder, what words come to mind? Theatre is also presented and extremely important since theatre was the catalyst for Fassbinder venturing him into film. Fassbinder stated "In theatre I always directed as if it were a film, and then shot the films as if it were theatre, I did that fairly determinedly. Some are the cellar, others the walls and others again are the windows.

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The insatiable need to create appears like a pathology of exuberant creation and suffering, which he inflicted not only on himself but on his many collaborators, which accounts for the theme of masochism which recurs throughout all his work. What Fassbinder accomplished in such a relatively short time is simply stupendous, and it is highly unlikely for a contemporary artist to aspire to be as prolific.

As Thomsen remarks: The speed at which Fassbinder worked and his workaholism must be unique in film history. Directors usually manage, at most, a feature film every two years; Fassbinder rarely made less than four films a year, always based on his original ideas.

Only rarely did he enlist the help of others for a script. He made 33 feature films for cinema and TV, fourtelevision series consisting of a total of 23 episodes and four feature-length video films, which makes a total of 60 individual units for film and television within the space of thirteen years. On top of that, Fassbinder wrote or directed 30 plays for the stage and four for the Radio.

As an actor, he appeared in a large number of his own films, as well as in 12 films by other directors, four times in the lead role. From the start, he was his own producer and only when his films were more successful commercially was he able to hire other producers. He also produced three films for other directors. He edited several of his own films, and was his own cameraman twice.

These films were marked by anecdotal action, the use of static long takes, the absence of montage, and the stylized gesturing of the performers. These early films, in which we can strongly sense the influence of Jean-Luc Godard, Jean-Marie Straub and Glauber Rocha, demonstrate a modernist approach where the sense of spectacle is purposely stripped away to prevent spectator identification with characters or their situations.

On the basis of social satire, Whity becomes a spaghetti-western pastiche and The American Soldier becomes an hommage to the Hollywood gangster film; however, Fassbinder renounces the temptation to purely entertain his audience.

Whity With The Merchant of Four Seasons , Fassbinder begins to appropriate the conventions of the Hollywood melodrama, which is where his admiration for Douglas Sirk begins to flower. In The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant , Fassbinder problematises character identification through his critical attitude toward them and the extreme stylisation of the film.

Ibid, p. Fassbinder makes the most consistent and sophisticated use of this in Effi Briest : No one-sided interpretation of the many mirror-images is intended here, since their function is often rather nuanced. They not only serve to expose the ambiguity of a situation, but also to frame the characters in the manner of stiff family portraits, and to demonstrate that the characters are tied to a family tradition from which they cannot free themselves.

At several points one wonders for a moment whether one is looking at a living mirror-image or at a lifeless photograph on the wall. These characters often stand like lifeless portraits in their own lifes — bound to a gender model in which the development of the lives of individuals freezes into a gesture determined by tradition.

Thomsen demonstrates with acuity how this critical attitude gave great sustenance to the controversy surrounding Fassbinder which, in his lifetime, saw perhaps more detractors than admirers. The feminists fiercely attacked The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant on the pretext that the relations between the women operated strictly at the level of emotional dependence and victimisation.

Likewise the homosexual community did not respond well to the sordid and pessimistic vision Fassbinder presented between two men of different social class in Fox and his Friends. Personally, Fassbinder reached an important crisis point when he was outrageously accused of anti-Semitism with regards to his theatre piece Garbage, the City and Death which, to this day, has not been presented in Germany, even though it was written in Sometimes, the dummies also function as projection surfaces for parts of the psyche,of dreams and longings, or they show how we treat one another: not as human beings with a soul and reason, but as commodities.

Although it is fairly easy to view the 13 parts and epilogue of Berlin Alexanderplatz on home video, it is a good bet that the other two TV series will never get similar distribution in North America: Eight Hours Are Not a Day and World on a Wire, televised respectively in and Eight Hours Are Not a Day is a family saga told in five episodes which shows that Fassbinder had the capacity, when he wanted, to reach a mass public while treating themes that were dear to him, but with a tone far more light and optimistic than that found in the majority of his films.

The series World on a Wire, filmed in two episodes, is an adaptation of the novel by writer Daniel F. Fortunately, Thomsen restrains himself from such excessive flattery.

One must certainly have a committed passion with said subject to engage such a large body of work in great detail, but Thomsen also possess the critical distance necessary to reveal the weaknesses of certain films, even considering some of them as total missteps.

By contrast, the ambitious Chinese Roulette, Despair and Querelle remain fascinating, although problematic on a narrative level. One would have hoped for a more detailed formal analysis where certain films were concerned. Even though the symbolism of the mise en scene is treated with considerable conviction, elements such as camera movement and the role of sound, notably music, are rarely discussed.

This is especially pertinent because Fassbinder often worked with the same technical crew. Additionally, one may be annoyed by certain Freudian interpretations which Thomsen resorts to throughout his analysis. However, Thomsen sometimes attributes excessive Freudian symbolism to certain scenes or objects, notably with respect to the subject of Martha: In the Freudian interpretation of dreams, steps are a symbol for intercourses.

When Martha climbs the steps with her father, that expresses her repressed erotic desire for the one who had already rejected her when she was a small child. Then her need was legitimate and natural, but because of the stern rejection it encountered, it has survived into adult life in repressed form. Some are the cellar, others the walls and others again are the windows.


Fassbinder: The Life And Work Of A Provocative Genius

He worked at breakneck speed and in fourteen provocativve made forty-four films, including Ali: Fassbinder — reading the biography 4 6 Sep 01, Michael rated it it was amazing Feb 19, And wow, if you think his movies are depressing, just wait until you get to his life. Obviously Fassbinder faced criticism and backlash, controversy never lacking. Christian Braad Thomsen is a Danish filmmaker and scholar. Terror and Joy The Films of Dusan Makavejev The first book to examine the work of this radical, influential filmmaker. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Want to Read saving….




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