By Dennis Hartley
(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on May 16, 2015)
An oft-quoted ancient Chinese philosopher once proffered “The flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long”. He could have been prophesying the short yet incredibly productive life of Rainer Werner Fassbinder. By the time he died at age 37 in 1982, the iconoclastic German director-screenwriter-actor (and producer, editor, cameraman, composer, designer, etc.) had churned out 40 feature films, a couple dozen stage plays, 2 major television film series, and an assortment of video productions, radio plays and short films.
When you consider the fact that this prodigious output occurred over a mere 15 year period, it’s possible that the man actually died from sheer exhaustion (I got exhausted just reading through his credits and realizing I’ve barely taken in one-third of his oeuvre over the years). In just under 2 hours, Danish director Christian Braad Thomsen does an amazing job of tying together the prevalent themes in Fassbinder’s work with the personal and psychological motivations that fueled this indefatigable drive to create, to provoke, and to challenge the status quo.