Rainer Werner Fassbinder

                 (excerpted from IMDb Mini Biography by Steve Cohn)

Above all, Rainer Werner Fassbinder was a rebel whose life and art was marked by gross contradiction. Openly homosexual, he married twice; one of his wives acted in his films and the other served as his editor ... He completed 44 projects between 1966 and 1982, the majority of which can be characterized as highly intelligent social melodramas. His prodigious output was matched by a wild, self-destructive libertinage that earned him a reputation as the enfant terrible of the New German Cinema (as well as its central figure.) ... Fassbinder cruised the bar scene by night, looking for sex and drugs, yet he maintained a flawless work ethic by day. Actors and actresses recount disturbing stories of his brutality toward them, yet his pictures demonstrate his deep sensitivity to social misfits and his hatred of institutionalized violence ...

Fassbinder was born into a bourgeois Bavarian family in 1946. His father was a doctor and his mother a translator. In order to have time for her work, his mother frequently sent him the movies, a practice that gave birth to his obsession with the medium ... At the age of 15, Fassbinder defiantly declared his homosexuality ... He studied theater in the mid-sixties ... learned how to handle all phases of production ... This versatility later surfaced in his films where ... Fassbinder served as composer, production designer, cinematographer, producer and editor ... 

Success was not immediate for Fassbinder. His first feature length film ... [was] Love Is Colder Than Death (1969) ... His next piece, Katzelmacher (1969), was a minor critical success ... In subsequent years, he made such controversial films about human savagery such as Pioneers in Ingolstadt (1971) and Whity (1971) before scoring his first domestic commercial success with The Merchant of Four Seasons (1971) ... considered a masterpiece, as is his first international success Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974) ... With a wider audience for his efforts, however, some critics contend that Fassbinder began to sell out with big budget projects such as Despair (1978), Lili Marleen (1981) and Lola (1981). In retrospect, however, it seems that the added fame simply enabled Fassbinder to explore various kinds of filmmaking, including such "private" works as In a Year with 13 Moons (1978) and The Third Generation (1979) ... His greatest success came with The Marriage of Maria Braun (1979) ... Other notable movies include The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972), Fox and His Friends (1975), Satan's Brew (1976) and Querelle (1982) ...

His death is a perfect picture of the man and his legend. On the night of June 10, 1982, Fassbinder took an overdose of cocaine and sleeping pills. When he was found, the unfinished script for a version of ROSA LUXEMBOURG was lying next to him. So boundless was his drive and creativity that, throughout his downward spiral and even in the moment of his death, Fassbinder never ceased to be productive.