The Fass and the furious

Rainer Werner Fassbinder is like a hellish wonderland

  • The Fass and the furious
  • Annabelle Fitzherbert
  • May 19, 2017

“Rainer Werner Fassbinder is (like) a hellish wonderland. To be fascinated by him is to tumble down a theatrical, dryly comic rabbit hole into a society where cinematic passions rule and good behaviour has no currency.” – Little White Lies

Separating the personal life of Rainer Werner Fassbinder from his films would be like trying to unscramble the eggs in an omelette. This was not a man to compartmentalise. Lovers male and female ended up on screen. Addictions and power games splashed over the sides of his life and into art. His were not sets, or films, for the faint-hearted.” – The Guardian

This month we’ve chosen to focus on the profilic Rainer Werner Fassbinder by bringing to you 4 of his greatest films, every Sunday:

  1. His 4 hour labyrinth World On A Wire (Sunday 28 May, 4.55pm) – has rarely been seen anywhere since its original airing in 1973. It is a gloriously cracked and boundlessly inventive take on the weird world of tomorrow.
  2. Love Is Colder than Death (Sunday 14 May, 7pm) – Fassbinder’s very first feature, made when we was just 24 years old about an independent hoodlum who is ordered to kill his friend by a crime>
  3. 1971’s Beware of a Holy Whore (Sunday 21 May 6.45pm) – Sees a bullying production manager and a volatile director terrorising the crew as they wait in a Spanish hotel for shooting to begin on film-within-a-film, Patria O Muerte.
  4. His 1974 masterpiece Ali: Fear Eats The Soul (Sunday 7 May 6.55pm) – This is a physical idolisation of his second great love, El Hedi Ben Salem.

Fassbinder is a man whose past is filled with intrigue. Born in 1945, there was his sudden death at just 37 years-old in 1982 from a cocktail of cocaine and sleeping pills, the way he was found (still clutching a cigarette), the sheer number of filmed works (41 films in a 14 years), his lovers (countless men and women), his great loves (three men) and his abuses (drugs, alcohol, food, people).

As a gay man growing up in the West Germany’s post war years, his films are highly political and explore various themes of social and economic injustice, moral bankruptcy and human exploitation.

In one interview he explained, “Every decent director has only one subject, and finally only makes the same film over and over again. My subject is the exploitability of feelings, whoever might be the one exploiting them. It never ends. It’s a permanent theme. Whether the state exploits patriotism, or whether in a couple’s relationship, one partner destroys the other.”

WATCH: Interview with Fassbinder Filmmaking is about politics

Mirroring the complex personality of their persistent yet self-doubting maker, Fassbinder’s films are both lush and cold, polemical yet undidactic, and of course, ceaselessly creative.

His films make us think about ourselves, “Within Fassbinder we can see shades of ourselves… the agonised tapestries of personal relationships, are warning shots fired. While I believe that love can be non-exploitative and creative relationships can thrive without power games, there is a part of me that knows how this other way of coexisting would go. This is what makes Fassbinder’s tragic melodramas so recognisable and compelling: they are the twisted parts of our natures given oxygen, they are life through the looking glass.” – Little White Lies

Don’t miss our Fass and the Furious collection, Sundays in May. Visit the World Movies Movie Guide now.

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