Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Rainer Werner Fassbinder
  • Full name: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Rainer Werner Fassbinder was born in Bavaria, on May 31st, 1945. As a child, he went to cinema nearly every day and sometimes as many as three or four times per day. He dreamed about screen and stage. Ever since he was a child, he despised any rules and social systems: he completed his secondary education but left the school just before the final examinations; several times he applied to the Cinema and Television Academy in West Berlin but was never accepted there.

In fact, he did not need a diploma: he was so eager to make films that did not see any obstacles on his way. He made his first short film “The City Tramp” at the age of 21 and made another 42 films during the16 following years of his life. It would be hard to find another serious filmmaker in the history of cinema that would have done so much. 
His early films were often shot in several days, in one room and resembled TV shows. He also directed numerous plays for the theatre. All his films were largely written or adapted for the screen by Fassbinder himself. He was also the art director on most of the early films, editor or co-editor on many of them (often credited as Franz Walsh, though the spelling varies), and he acted in nineteen of his own films as well as in other directors’ works. 
He wrote fourteen plays, created new versions of six classical plays (including plays of Lope de Vega, Ibsen, Strindberg, Chekhov), and directed or co-directed twenty-five performances. He wrote and directed four radio plays and wrote song lyrics. In addition, he wrote thirty-three screenplays and collaborated with other screenwriters on thirteen more. He also worked occasionally as cinematographer and producer. Through working with the same group of actors and technicians, he was able to complete films ahead of schedule and often under budget, and thus compete successfully for government grants. He worked fast, typically omitting rehearsals and going with the first take.

Underlying Fassbinder’s work was a desire to provoke and to disturb. His phenomenal creative energy co-existed with a wild, self-destructive libertinism that earned him a reputation as the ‘enfant terrible’ of the New German Cinema, as well as made him the central figure in his field. He had tortured personal relationships with the actors and technicians around him who formed a surrogate family. However, his films demonstrate his deep sensitivity to the social issues and his hatred for the institutionalized violence. He ruthlessly attacked both German bourgeois society and larger limitations of humanity.