We would like to begin by wishing a happy birthday to the actor Günter Lamprecht, known for his many film and theater roles, who turned 89 on 21 January. He appeared in several of Fassbinder’s works but his most significant role for the director was undoubtedly the television series BERLIN ALEXANDERPLATZ (1980) based on Alfred Döblin’s novel of the same name. Just how important Lamprecht also was for Fassbinder is already evident in the fact that the actor was chosen to play the role of Franz Biberkopf, a figure Fassbinder paid homage to in the course of his career by using variants of the name for a number of pseudonyms and characters. In one interview Lamprecht said that he particularly appreciated Fassbinder as a director because he allowed him so much freedom as an actor (see: https://www.mopo.de/interview-guenter-lamprecht–was-ein-unrecht-ist–erkenne-ich-sofort–20053450 ).
It is a happy coincidence that Lamprecht’s most recent performance was in BABYLON BERLIN, a TV series based on the crime novel Der nasse Fisch by Volker Kutscher, which, like BERLIN ALEXANDERPLATZ, is set in the period between the two world wars. Perhaps Lamprecht’s presence is also an intentional reference to the RWF’s work.
With the recent death of Hans Günther Pflaum, the German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung has lost one of its longest-serving writers. Pflaum worked for the paper from almost 40 years as a film critic and had a keen interest in Fassbinder’s work. Fassbinder is the subject of his book Das bisschen Realität, das ich brauche. Wie Filme entstehen and of his documentary I DON’T JUST WANT YOU TO LOVE ME. An obituary by Pflaum’s colleague Tobias Kniebe can be read at: https://www.sueddeutsche.de/kultur/nachruf-hans-guenther-pflaum-1.4262471
In France the director and actor Pierre Maillet and the theater collective Les Lucioles have devised a project, Le bonheur (n’est pas toujours drôle), that fuses the three films ALI: FEAR EATS THE SOUL (1973), FOX AND HIS FRIENDS (1975) and MOTHER KÜSTERS’ TRIP TO HEAVEN (1975). Maillet’s aim is to pay homage to an oeuvre that has inspired him as well as to the classical melodrama and an artist who fought tirelessly against the dehumanization of our world. Following its premiere at the Comédie de Caen in Hérouville-Saint-Clair the production is due to be staged again at the Comédie de Saint-Étienne on 5 and 7 February. More information and a trailer can be found at: http://www.theatre-des-lucioles.net/spip.php?article189
The beginning of 2019 sees the German release on DVD and Blu-ray of two digitally restored films from RWF’s late period. IN A YEAR OF 13 MOONS (1978) was released on 24 January. The film tells of the final days of the transsexual Elvira Weishaupt and, due to its numerous “estrangement effects,” is regarded as one of Fassbinder’s most radical works. Similarly experimental in formal terms is the vicious satire of terrorism THE THIRD GENERATION (1979), which will be released in its restored version on 14 February. Both films are available on the Arthaus home-cinema label. (More information is available at: http://www.arthaus.de/in_einem_jahr_mit_13_monden-digital_remastered and at: http://www.arthaus.de/die_dritte_generation-digital_remastered).
Finally, a movie tip for March. In 2016 US director Barry Jenkins scored a surprise success with MOONLIGHT, which won the Oscar for Best Film that year. Now Jenkins’ latest film is being released, an adaptation of James Baldwin’s novel “If Beale Street Could Talk.” The film is set in 1970s New York and tells the story of a young couple whose love is put to the test by a false accusation. A trailer for the film can be seen at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CQXSforT_qQ
Many people may be unaware of the fact that James Baldwin and Fassbinder knew and greatly admired one another. An article published in Der Spiegel in 1978 describes how when James Baldwin attended a concert given by Ingrid Caven in Paris he called out to her “Tell Fassbinder I worship him.” (The article is available at: http://www.spiegel.de/spiegel/print/d-40617805.html). And shortly before his death Fassbinder had plans to film “Giovanni’s Room,” a project for which Robert Redford was for short time discussed as a possible producer and lead actor.
In 2016 Baldwin was once again presented to a wider audience as an author and a key figure of the African-American civil rights movement, in this case in the context of Raoul Peck’s celebrated film essay I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO. Our German readers can currently view the film at no cost in the online media library of the Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung: http://www.bpb.de/mediathek/283417/i-am-not-your-negro
We wish our readers all the best over the coming weeks and will be back in April with more news from the world of Rainer Werner Fassbinder
More on the films of Rainer Werner Fassbinder:
More on the theater plays of Rainer Werner Fassbinder:
Photo left: Günter Lamprecht in BERLIN ALEXANDERPLATZ © Bavaria/RWFF
Photo right: KiKi Layne and Stephen James in IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK © Tatum Mangus Annapurna Pictures DCM