From Fassbender to Fassbinder


Rainer Werner Fassbinder (1945 - 1982)

Just fell in love with Rainer Werner Fassbinder after watching an interview he gave to the journalist Peter W. Jansen in 1978. Jansen shows intimate understanding of Fassbinder and his questions are close to the bone. Never evasive, Fassbinder answers with precision and candour. In the background, day turns to night.

The interview takes place in the film-maker’s Paris apartment and he chain-smokes throughout, staring at the table as he thinks about his answers, sighing and rubbing his eyes as if going through a mental wrangle. Sometimes a wry smile or chuckle will sneak through when aware he’s said something audacious. A  bohemian look – black shirt unbuttoned to a pimpin’ vee and an unkept brown mane – is the only typical element of the man.

The entire 50 minutes is fascinating. Part 1 is below (If the subtitles don’t come up automatically, click on the cc button which will provide the option to turn them on):

To get a taste of the Fassbinder style, here are some of my personal highlights from the interview:

PWJ: Are you ever worried that you will fail in purely private relationships?

RWF: What do you mean “worried”? I know in advance that this is going to happen.

PWJ: When did you first realise that other people are interested in your life, Fassbinder’s life?

RWF: I don’t know. Ever since I can remember I’ve thought it was normal for people to be interested in everything I did or did not do.

RWF: The one who loves or loves more is obviously the inferior  one in the relationship. This is to do with the fact that the one who loves less has more power, obviously. Dealing with this fact – accepting an emotion, or love, or a need – requires a greatness which most people don’t possess. That’s why things usually get very nasty.


PWJ: What’s your motivation for making so many films?

RWF: Well, that’s the crucial question. It must be some special kind of mental illness.


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