The 10 Favorite Films of Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Despite liv­ing for only 37 years, and with­in that hav­ing a career that last­ed for only fif­teen, the Ger­man auteur Rain­er Wern­er Fass­binder cre­at­ed so pro­lif­i­cal­ly that his final list of accom­plish­ments includes direct­ing forty fea­ture films, three shorts, and two tele­vi­sion series, as well as appear­ing in 36 dif­fer­ent roles as an actor — to say noth­ing of his works in oth­er media and his con­sid­er­able influ­ence on sub­se­quent gen­er­a­tions of film­mak­ers around the world. Sheer pro­duc­tiv­i­ty aside, many of these works have either stood the test of time, like The Bit­ter Tears of Petra von Kant and Berlin Alexan­der­platz or, like philo­soph­i­cal sci­ence fic­tion World on a Wire, enjoyed recent redis­cov­er­ies.

What could have inspired in Fass­binder such unre­lent­ing cre­ativ­i­ty? His list of ten favorite films, drawn up a year before his death in 1982, pro­vides some clues. “Fassbinder’s very favorite was Visconti’s The Damned, a visu­al­ly sump­tu­ous panora­ma of soci­etal col­lapse and decay in Third Reich Ger­many and no doubt an influ­ence on the Ger­man auteur’s own “BRD Tril­o­gy,” in par­tic­u­lar the bawdy, bor­del­lo-set Lola,” writes Indiewire’s Ryan Lat­tanzio. He also “loved Max Ophuls’ 1955 Lola Montes, the sad sto­ry of a kept woman shot in the kind of glo­ri­ous­ly ren­dered col­or Fass­binder would lat­er employ in his own work. As with many top 10 lists com­piled by con­fronta­tion­al film­mak­ers, Pasolini’s beau­ti­ful­ly ugly descent into hell Salò was also close to his heart.”

Fass­binder’s final favorite-films list runs, in full, as fol­lows:

  1. The Damned (1969, Dir: Luchi­no Vis­con­ti)
  2. The Naked And the Dead (1958, Dir: Raoul Walsh)
  3. Lola Montes (1955, Dir: Max Ophuls)
  4. Flamin­go Road (1949, Dir: Michael Cur­tiz)
  5. Salò, or the 120 Days Of Sodom (1975, Dir: Pier Pao­lo Pasoli­ni)
  6. Gen­tle­men Pre­fer Blondes (1953, Dir: Howard Hawks)
  7. Dis­hon­ored (1931, Dir: Josef von Stern­berg)
  8. The Night Of The Hunter (1955, Dir: Charles Laughton)
  9. John­ny Gui­tar (1954, Dir: Nicholas Ray)
  10. The Red Snow­ball Tree (1973, Dir: Vasili Shuk­shin)

If one qual­i­ty unites all of Fass­binder’s motion pic­tures of choice, from all the afore­men­tioned to the stark, near-Expres­sion­ist noir of Night of the Hunter to the super­hu­man­ly snap­py com­e­dy of Gen­tle­men Pre­fer Blondes to the West­ern genre rein­ven­tion, high­ly appre­ci­at­ed in Europe, of John­ny Gui­tar, it might well be vivid­ness. All of these movies, each in their own way, allowed Fass­binder to release the vivid­ness — and cin­e­ma his­to­ry has remem­bered him as a mas­ter of the vivid as well as the vis­cer­al — res­i­dent in his imag­i­na­tion. Alas, no mat­ter how much he man­aged to real­ize, a great deal more of it sure­ly passed away with him.

via Indiewire

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Aki­ra Kurosawa’s List of His 100 Favorite Movies

Woody Allen Lists the Great­est Films of All Time: Includes Clas­sics by Bergman, Truf­faut & Felli­ni

Mar­tin Scors­ese Reveals His 12 Favorite Movies (and Writes a New Essay on Film Preser­va­tion)

Stan­ley Kubrick’s List of Top 10 Films (The First and Only List He Ever Cre­at­ed)

Andrei Tarkovsky Cre­ates a List of His 10 Favorite Films (1972)

Susan Sontag’s 50 Favorite Films (and Her Own Cin­e­mat­ic Cre­ations)

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, the video series The City in Cin­e­ma, the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Ange­les Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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