On 7 November the German actor Hans-Michael Rehberg died at the age of 79. He appeared in numerous stage productions as well as a diverse range of films, working with exponents of New German Cinema such as Margarethe von Trotta, Alexander Kluge and Reinhard Hauff, maverick figures such as Roland Klick, Rudolf Thome and Romuald Karmakar, and with Steven Spielberg in Hollywood. Theater critic C. Bernd Sucher’s characterization of the actor has often been quoted: “Rehberg seems first to examine the way his characters think before inhabiting their bodies and identifying with them.” In 1980 the actor worked with Fassbinder on BERLIN ALEXANDERPLATZ, based on Alfred Döblin’s novel of the same name.
It is a well-known fact that Döblin’s novel was extremely important to RWF – he not only named characters in several of his films after Döblin’s protagonist, Franz Biberkopf, but also borrowed the character’s first name for his editing pseudonym, Franz Walsch. Döblin’s tale is now being filmed again by director Burhan Qurbani. The director’s previous works, such as SHAHADA and WE ARE YOUNG. WE ARE STRONG, are marked above all by a focus on socio-political themes and the exploration of migrant perspectives. It is therefore not surprising that he has transplanted BERLIN ALEXANDERPLATZ into the present and set the story in an African community. The protagonist in this case is a Nigerian refugee who seeks to become a decent person in the German capital.
Falk Richter’s theater piece “Je suis Fassbinder”, the world premiere of which was directed by Richter and Stanislas Nordey, is once again touring through France. The text explores the question of how one can use the tools of art to react to current social developments and is based on Fassbinder’s episode in the film GERMANY IN AUTUMN. During the development of the piece, Richter, an ardent RWF fan, was in close contact with the Fassbinder Foundation. Performances in France up until the end of the year are as follows:
Théâtre National Populaire, Villeurbanne – 8 to 24 November
Comédie de Clermont-Ferrand – 29 and 30 November
Châteauvallon Scène nationale – 8 and 9 December
Comédie de Reims – 13 and 14 December
Théâtre National de Strasbourg – 18 to 22 December
The German version of the text, which is shorter than the French original, is available online on Falk Richter’s website (http://www.falkrichter.com/ckfinder/userfiles/files/PDF/Theatre%20plays/Je%20suis%20Fassbinder.pdf
Commenting on the German premiere at Nuremburg’s Tafelhalle, the Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote: “What is astounding about ‘Je suis Fassbinder’ is just how well Falk Richter’s reworking of the original material functions, how current everything suddenly is again. The subject matter may be different but the oppressive mood of the time is there again, and with it the fear. ‘Fear’ is the word most often used in the piece and it is fear that generates the desire for security, clarity, and simple answers.” The entire review is available at: http://www.sueddeutsche.de/kultur/theater-die-angst-ist-zurueck-1.3189094
A new German production directed by Rainer Escher will premiere on 11 November at Mannheim’s Theater Fellina-Areal. More information at: http://www.theater-felina-areal.de/Schauspiel/Je-suis-Fassbinder/
The Berlin arthouse cinema Filmkunst 66 is currently screening Wolf Gremm’s KAMIKAZE 1989 every Friday at 10:30 p.m. Based on Per Wahlöö’s novel “Murder on the Thirty-First Floor,” the film depicts a dystopia set in a totalitarian state where all media outlets belong to a single firm. The main role is played by Fassbinder in his now-legendary leopard-print jacket. The electronic soundtrack is by Tangerine Dream frontman Edgar Froese. The film is being screened in its recently restored digital version with English subtitles.
(More information at: http://filmkunst66.de/index.php?id=77&no_cache=1&tx_bitcinema_pi1%5Bback%5D=index.php%3Fid%3D77%26no_cache%3D1&tx_bitcinema_pi1%5BCMD%5D=detail&tx_bitcinema_pi1%5Buid%5D=586&tx_bitcinema_pi1%5Bdate%5D=1510873200 )
Finally, we would like send our belated best wishes to Edgar Reitz on reaching his 85th birthday. The German director was a cosignatory to the Oberhausen Manifesto, has also made numerous documentaries, and is known above all for his HEIMAT series, of which the prequel HOME FROM HOME was most recently screened in cinemas. Like Fassbinder, Reitz also contributed to the omnibus film GERMANY IN AUTUMN.
We wish our friends and readers a calm period leading up to Christmas and will return at the end of the year with more news from the world of Rainer Werner Fassbinder.
More on films of Rainer Werner Fassbinder:
Photo left: Je suis Fassbinder, Théâtre National de Strasbourg © Jean-Louis Fernandez.
Photo right: Rainer Werner Fassbinder und Nicole Heesters in KAMIKAZE 1989 © Ziegler Film