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Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Dead by 37, openly bi-sexual, constantly controversial: Rainer Werner Fassbinder was arguably post-war Germany’s greatest filmmaker.

A fearless artist who knew no taboos, Fassbinder combined scathing social criticism with profound psychological insight. After failing to get into film school he turned instead to the theatre, rapidly winning renown as a radical, innovative writer-director.

With ferocious energy, though minimal resources, he started to make films, building a loyal team of actors and technicians drawn from the theatre (his first 10 features were made in less than two years).

An insatiable film addict from early childhood, Fassbinder drew inspiration from the French New Wave and, later, from the Hollywood melodramas of Douglas Sirk and others. But what emerged from his dazzling fusion of style and content was a powerful, personal vision of people imprisoned by social constraints and their own contradictory desires. Provocative, poignant, darkly witty: these are films that could change your life.

Fassbinder is the subject of a major retrospective at BFI Southbank through April and May 2017.

"Seeing a Fassbinder retrospective is better than drugs, liquor and sex put together. If he was alive today, I'd fall to my knees in front of him. Dead? Well, we have to pray to somebody, don't we?"

John Waters

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Rainer Werner Fassbinder
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View Fear Eats the Soul
Fear Eats the Soul

Fear Eats the Soul 1974 12

Fassbinder’s international breakthrough, this unconventional love story combines lucid social analysis with devastating emotional power.

94 mins Federal Republic of Germany Director. Rainer Werner Fassbinder

View Chinese Roulette
Chinese Roulette

Chinese Roulette 1976 15

Psychodrama with a vengeance: Fassbinder’s first international co-production, drenched in gothic atmosphere, is another deadly assault on the institution of marriage.

86 mins Federal Republic of Germany Director. Rainer Werner Fassbinder

View The Marriage of Maria Braun
The Marriage of Maria Braun

The Marriage of Maria Braun 1978 15

With a blazing star performance from Hanna Schygulla in the title role, this was the greatest critical and commercial success of Fassbinder’s career.

120 mins Federal Republic of Germany Director. Rainer Werner Fassbinder

View Fox and His Friends
Fox and His Friends

Fox and His Friends 1975 15

Fassbinder's brilliantly caustic and cynical drama follows an ex-fairground worker who wins the lottery but is still mocked and exploited by his boyfriend’s family and friends.

123 mins Federal Republic of Germany Director. Rainer Werner Fassbinder

View Effi Briest
Effi Briest

Effi Briest 1974 U

Fassbinder's exquisitely subtle rendition of Fontane’s great novel, starring the great Hanna Schygulla as the titular 17-year-old who is forced into a socially advantageous marriage with a much older man.

135 mins Federal Republic of Germany Director. Rainer Werner Fassbinder

View The Merchant of Four Seasons
The Merchant of Four Seasons

The Merchant of Four Seasons 1972 15

Fassbinder’s first foray into melodrama follows an ex-policeman forced to become a fruit-seller, while his wife craves bourgeois respectability and his family despises his lowly status.

88 mins Federal Republic of Germany Director. Rainer Werner Fassbinder

View Katzelmacher
Katzelmacher

Katzelmacher 1969 15

A Greek immigrant unleashes jealousy and xenophobia among a group of Munich neighbours in Fassbinder’s shocking adaptation of his own play.

88 mins Federal Republic of Germany Director. Rainer Werner Fassbinder

View Love Is Colder than Death
Love Is Colder than Death

Love Is Colder than Death 1969 15

Fassbinder stars in his debut feature as a petty criminal whose desire for freedom is undermined by his emotional needs

88 mins Federal Republic of Germany Director. Rainer Werner Fassbinder

View Beware of a Holy Whore
Beware of a Holy Whore

Beware of a Holy Whore 1971 15

In an elegant Spanish hotel lobby, a film cast and crew outdo one another in displays of professional and sexual rivalry while waiting endlessly for shooting to begin.

103 mins Federal Republic of Germany Director. Rainer Werner Fassbinder

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