Happy Birthday Rainer Werner Fassbinder (1945-1982)

Rainer Werner Fassbinder

I carried a laminated picture of R.W. Fassbinder in my wallet for awhile, more as a reminder that such a kind of person existed at all than that such a kind of person might exist more than once. I handily relieved myself of it one drunken night over 20 years ago by flinging it down a bar at a trio of German bankers with whom I was arguing the auteur’s merits. I was, I imagined, fulfilling a role of some sort, that of a poète maudit perhaps, but the truth was that I was drunk and loved cinema more than those bankers did.

In any case, it’s impossible to imagine Fassbinder at 73 years old, as he would have turned yesterday, or 72 as some sources have it.

In conversation with a friend earlier this week, we discussed how seeing one Fassbinder film didn’t disclose much about his greatness but that one should rather see 10 of his films to get the gist, and that given his filmography, this effort could be carried out at least three times without repeating a single title.

Here’s his obituary from The New York Times.