This would be a hagiography if Fassbinder wasn’t so unlikeable. Rainer Werner Fassbinder had too much freedom as a child. Rainer Werner Fassbinder had unusual ideas about having sex with your mother. Rainer Werner Fassbinder believed all relationships were power plays. Rainer Werner Fassbinder never grew up. Rainer Werner Fassbinder was a sadistic misogynist. Rainer Werner Fassbinder just wanted to be a father. Rainer Werner Fassbinder was a workaholic.
These are just some of the theories expounded on in some detail in this Danish documentary by long time Fassbinder devotee Christian Braad Thomsen. Although the film starts with an exploration of Fassbinder’s film style, it soon becomes a meditation on him as a man, with clips from his many, many films used just to illustrate and speculate on his inner world. This would be a hagiography if Fassbinder wasn’t so unlikeable.
Thomsen obviously thought that everything Fassbinder had to say was fascinating and deeply insightful. There were long excerpts from interviews with him, particularly from one time where Fassbinder was ‘exhausted’ (read drug affected) and rambled on and on. The sharp moments were when others spoke of him and you could see what kind of person he had been. A deeply flawed bully who was given licence to do pretty much as he chose through the force of his charisma and his ability to churn out a prolific number of unsettling films. It didn’t make me want to go out and see any of then.