Uschi Obermaier and Rainer Werner Fassbinder — wild and wilder.

uschi250_2501.jpgThe movie about Uschi Obermaier’s ‘wild life’ (Das wilde Leben) premiered earlier this month in Munich. Director Achim Bornhak found an acceptable Uschi-lookalike in newcomer Natalia Avelon who supposedly is quite talented und so weiter — however, a review at the IMDb sums up my expectations: “Very beautiful but stupid”. That’s regrettable; the timespan covered by the movie was anything but stupid — I remember it as being innovative, creative, and pushing the limits. Very idealistic. We were ready to risk our safety, our freedom even, in order to make the world a better place. Hmm; maybe that was rather stupid, come to think of it…
At the Berlinale, Berlin’s annual international filmfestival, a digitally remastered version of Berlin Alexanderplatz was shown last week. A dramatization of Alfred Döblin‘s 1929 novel, this film was made for German television in 1980 by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, another of Munich’s famous children from the late Sixties. First shown as a mini-series, the 15-hour-long epic was poorly received by viewers and critics alike. Outside of Germany, however, it received only the highest praise. Both in New York and Paris, for example, major retrospectives of Fassbinder’s work celebrated him as one of the most important German filmmakers. Berlin finally followed suit — despite its harrowing hours from 10 am to 3:20 am the following morning, the movie sold out and received a standing ovation at the end.

rwf1.jpgFassbinder was a real “Bürgerschreck” — somebody who’d make normal people completely uncomfortable, even scare them. He got himself arrested for wearing an “Iron Cross” — a WWII decoration — around his neck which offended the owner of a pub where Fassbinder would often drink a beer between rehearsals with his first theater company at the “Action Theatre”. The pub owner called the cops, and it didn’t take long before Fassbinder was on the ground, received a few good kicks and hadcuffs, and was dragged into the police car to spend the night in jail. The local Munich papers reported the next morning that Fassbinder had withheld evidence, that the actors had threatened and provoked the police unnecessarily, and that the cops barely escaped with their life…

Once his movies had made him successful, he didn’t get arrested any more, but his life remained wild and crazy until his death at 37. He was a maniac, highly excessive and extreme in everything he did; he was openly gay even before it became legal in West- Germany (1969); his personal relationships were tortured and painful. Driven by his legendary creative energy, he made 43 films in less than 14 years.

He died of an overdose of cocaine and sleeping pills.

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