German film and television writer/director/actor/producer/editor.
Born 1945 in Bad Wörishofen, Bavaria, Germany. Died 1982, in Munich, Germany, of a drug overdose.
Fassbinder was rejected twice by the Berlin Film School, and chose to study film at a private school. In 1967, he became a director at the small underground theater Action-Theater in Munich. The following year (1968), he founded his own theater group, calling it "anti-theater".
Among the theater's regular cast was Hanna Schygulla, Irm Hermann and Kurt Raab. It was with these three that Fassbinder made his first film, Liebe ist kälter als der Tod ("Love is colder than death", 1969). In it, he explored the theme that was to dominate most of his oeuvre: the exploitation of emotion that he considers to be the inevitable consequence of the infiltration of the public social structure into private life.
In 16 years, Fassbinder wrote and/or directed 31 plays, 33 films, 4 television series (for a total of 23 episodes), 4 made-for-video films, 4 radio plays and 3 short films. He also regularly appeared as actor in films by himself and others.
In an interview, made a few hours before he died of a drug-induced coronary, Fassbinder stated his credo: "Mankind needs itself twice over, to be whole." Reflecting this, his films often revolved around a neurotic fragmentation, a duality of identity. Despite the common misinterpretation of his work as gloomy and pessimistic, Fassbinder essentially viewed this as a healing process, and the mirror was his favourite prop, through which he exhibited the difference between "want-to-be" and "is". His cast, too, played to this interpretation, with slightly off-key posture and diction, seldom revealing their personalities, except through interaction with others.
A central subject of Fassbinder's films is the dramatic and tragic 20th century history of Germany. The film Berlin Alexanderplatz (1980) deals with the collapse of the Weimar republic; the play Der Müll, die Stadt und der Tod (1975) deals with anti-semitism. The latter has never been performed in Germany.
The Nazi era was a subject that Fassbinder only managed to touch on briefly, in the not very successful Lili Marleen (1981). However, many of his post-World War II films display a keen sense of the survival of Nazi values in the general German population. As a child of the war, Fassbinder had deep emotional problems over his German identity. However anarchistic and untraditional he was, however, he also managed to celebrate the German cultural treasures that were destroyed by the Nazis. He identified with the German authors and artists that were forced into exile by the Nazis, such as Bertolt Brecht, Oskar Maria Graf, Marieluise Fleißer and Alfred Döblin. On the rare occasions when he did not work from his own writings, he chose theirs.
Filmography, in reverse chronological order
(not including posthumous credits)