Working with Fassbinder … and more!

And you think you have a tough job?

At the start of every day on (the film) Whity, Fassbinder would demand 10 cuba libres: nine to drink and one to hurl at (his cinematographer) Ballhaus.

There are a few left who remember

His muse was Hanna Schygulla, who brought her enigmatic, haughty allure to 23 of his film and television works. Now 74, with a wild mane of grey hair, she has collaborated with directors such as Godard, Béla Tarr and Carlos Saura and was even a contender for the lead in Sophie’s Choice. But she only ever gets asked about one person. Seated in the window of an empty restaurant in west Berlin, she tells me: “It’s because I’m one of the survivors.” Her choice of words makes Fassbinder sound like a natural disaster. To some, that’s precisely what he was.

Here is Hanna

Image result for Hanna Schygulla

To say that Fassbinder had internalized a bit of anger would be like saying the ocean is damp. The dude was out there.

“He could see the world through the eyes of a stranger and there are film-makers today who learned from that. Look at Moonlight — it’s about being stigmatised, being gay and black and poor. Fassbinder was always interested in the lives of outsiders and immigrants from the very beginning. He showed how we are all under the tyranny of values that are not even our own.”

That anger was part of the cultural stew of the 1960’s and 70’s. It infected lots of folks – including many who had no reason to be angry and didn’t really understand why they had gotten hat way.  I am thinking, at this moment, not so much of Fassbinder, but Jack Nicholson in Five Easy Pieces.  Here is Jack, doing his thing. The anger is a bit jarring these days.  It was very cool back then!


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