I wasn’t able to think of a better title for this article: in all cases, it’ll be too short to describe personality and works of this artist. So, it’s Germany, disgust, pain, sex, tears, love, man, woman, phallus, gay, negro, nigger, Nazism, hatred, war, poetry, rebellion, CINEMA!, Petra von Kant and her poignant tears.
I could list more, but I feel that your attention has already been grabbed. After all, filthy and homosexual love related stuff is highly debatable in our society. R.W. Fassbinder came through all of this during his lifetime so my aim is different. The most important are the things he left and everything that was brought by das kleine chaos around him.
This is a man who was raised by cinema, cinema was his family. Father? He left when Rainer was only five years old, and he didn’t try to build a decent relationship.
Five days a week, usually three films a day — R.W. Fassbinder about his childhood passion for cinema.
This is how future genius of movies was raised but still, his path to success was complicated, often even humiliating. Rainer was not able to finish school, so he started making his first short films when he was twenty. He managed to get financial support from his lover and in return, he gave him main roles in his movies. This story inspired his future masterpieces. Like all of us in that age, at that time a boy was focused to his future and put all his hopes to Berlin Film School but, unfortunately, the system clipped his wings.
Still, R.W. Fassbinder remained in his creative process. While he was acting in his amateur movies, Rainer met Irma Herman who worked as a secretary back then – she was his muse and a close friend in 24 films. Even his mother took a part in his films. After he began to work with performance art in theatre, a place where the film director encountered professional acting for the first time. He gained invaluable experience there also met Hanna Schygulla, his number one actress who became world famous afterwards. Thanks to her that R.W. Fassbinder turned to theatre.
In theatre, R. W. Fassbinder gathered a major part of his devoted troupe. Already then he used to pick such topics as racism, hatred or sex abuse. His first play “Katzelmacher” well depicted these problems. Only 20 minutes long intense acting show relationships between Bavaria villagers and a Greek worker who is hated by local men and absolutely admired by women.
Situation, feelings, inner human conflicts, insanity are the strongest aspects of R. W. Fassbinder’s art. Almost each of his characters impersonates one or another part of his life or character. You will genuinely consider poor Petra’s or chaotic Quarelle’s true feelings and their complicated problems in such films as “Quarelle” or “Die Bitteren Tränen der Petra von Kant” completely forgetting that these situations should be appalling or in some cases even unacceptable for heterosexual person. This is the most fascinating part in the works of R. W. Fassbinder — his virtuosity to make spectator pay attention to essential things in chaotic situations.
Cinema served as a family life I’ve never experienced at home — R.W. Fassbinder
Soon, foreign film critics acknowledged R. W. Fassbinder as a genius of cinema. After their applause, he finally started being accepted by German critics who weren’t fond of film director’s eccentricity as well as his scandalous appearances on TV and radio.
A phenomenal individual just had to depict himself in at least one of the films. In the end, it turned out that unique R. W. Fassbinder’s character might be savoured in each of his films.
If you are not familiar with his movies yet, I would recommend starting from before mentioned “Quarelle” and “Die Bitteren Tränen der Petra von Kant” (Poignant tears of Petra von Kant).
Both films are clearly influenced by theatrical performance. It seems that acts are performed on stage. All settings are deliberately created like theatrical decorations and scenography is also stagy.
Satansbraten is another must see film if you want to get to know R. W. Fassbinder’s personality better.
My impressions about R. W. Fassbinder are floating somewhere in the realm of subconsciousness and senses. There are only two ways when you encounter this artist: you are completely captivated or you start execrating him but what’s for sure – you can’t be indifferent. His first films were only few minutes long, and only after he reached their number of 930 he recognized that he’s mastered his craft.
It’s quite a modest name – craft…
R. W. Fassbinder died in 1982 after taking an immoderate amount of knockout pills and cocaine. His last film was dedicated to his lover Salem who starred in Angst essen Seele auf and later hanged himself in prison. That film was Quarelle.
We could assume that R. W. Fassbinder’s life story was a key to understanding his movies. Only awareness of biographical details can help to chronologically perceive all his twisted chaotic films as a full lifetime story of a remarkable artist.