Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Wunderkind

Leo A. Lensing in the Times Literary Supplement:

FassbinderIn the late 1970s, as the brilliant, brief career of Rainer Werner Fassbinder approached its zenith, the New York Times heralded the prolific young filmmaker, born in 1945, as both “wunderkind” and “messiah” of the New German Cinema. In Germany, where his work regularly provoked outrage and scandal, the left-wing magazine konkret portrayed him as “the thermometer in the asshole of culture”, ridiculing the director’s uncanny ability to operate as a constant irritant on the artistic scene. Since Fassbinder’s untimely death in 1982, from what his friend and frequent collaborator Harry Baer called an “overdose of work”, the importance of his complex cinematic and literary oeuvre has been consistently undervalued in Germany. The 2005 retrospective of the films, designed to celebrate what would have been his sixtieth birthday, was shown first in Paris at the Centre Pompidou and only then came to Berlin in a much scaled-down version. For most Germans, it seems to have been more an occasion for renewed wonderment over a delinquent native son’s international reputation than for celebration of one of their great twentieth-century artists.

Even if Fassbinder’s homeland has been slow to recognize his high standing in film history, the rest of the world has not.

More here.