Germany in Autumn does not have a plot per se; it mixes documentary footage, along with standard movie scenes, to give the audience the mood of Germany during the late 1970s. The movie covers the two month time period during 1977 when a businessman was kidnapped, and later murdered, by the left-wing terrorists known as the RAF-Rote Armee Fraktion (Red Army Faction). The businessman had been kidnapped in an effort to secure the release of the orginal leaders of the RAF, also known as the Baader-Meinhof gang. When the kidnapping effort and a plane hijacking effort failed, the three most prominent leaders of the RAF, Andreas Baader, Gudrun Enslin, and Jean-Carl Raspe, all committed suicide in prison. It has become an article of faith within the left-wing community that these three were actually murdered by the state. The movie has several vignettes, including an extended set of scenes with the famous director Rainer Werner Fassbinder discussing his feelings about Germany’s political situation at the time. Fassbinder’s scenes almost seem to be candid documentary footage, but aren’t. Other scenes include documentary footage of the joint funeral of Baader, Enslin, and Raspe. –IMDb
Rainer Werner Fassbinder (May 31, 1945 – June 10, 1982) was born into a cultured bourgeois family in the small Bavarian spa town Bad Wörishofen. Raised by his mother as an only child, the boy had only sporadic contact with his father, a doctor, after the divorce of his parents when he was five. Educated at a Rudolf Steiner elementary school and subsequently in Munich and Augsburg, the city of Bert Brecht, he left school before passing any final examinations. A cinema addict (“five times a week, often three films a day”) from a very early age, not least because his mother needed peace and quiet for her work as a translator, “the cinema was the family life I never had at home.”
Fassbinder made his first short films at the age of twenty, persuading a male lover to finance them in exchange for leading roles. He also applied for a place at the Berlin Film School (dffb), but was refused. He acted in both his early films: DER STADTSTREICHER (The City Tramp), which also featured Irm… read more
Alexander Kluge (born 14 February 1932, Halberstadt, Saxony-Anhalt) is a noted film director and author.
After growing up during the Second World War, he studied law, history and music at the universities of Marburg and Frankfurt am Main, receiving his doctorate in law in 1956. While studying in Frankfurt, Kluge befriended the philosopher Theodor Adorno, who had returned to Germany and was teaching at the Institute for Social Research, or Frankfurt School. Kluge served as a legal counsel for the Institute, and began writing his earliest stories during this period. At Adorno’s suggestion, he also began to investigate filmmaking, and in 1958, Adorno introduced him to German filmmaker Fritz Lang.
Kluge directed his first film in 1960, Brutalität im Stein (Brutality in Stone), a 12-minute, black and white, lyrical montage work which, against the German commercial (Papa’s Kino) cinematic amnesia of the prior decade, inaugurated an exploration of the Nazi past. The film premiered… read more
Edgar Reitz was born on the 1st of November 1932 in Morbach, a small town in the German Hunsrück Mountains. There his father Robert owned a small clockmakers shop, and his grandfather Johann Reitz worked as a Blacksmith in Morbach-Hundheim. Edgar Reitz has two younger siblings. His sister Heli, and his brother Guido who assumed his fathers trade and took over the Clock Shop.
During the time he attended school in Simmern, Reitz had already started acting and stage-managing in a theater subsidized by his German teacher Karl Windhäuser. After earning his Abitur (a diploma required to qualify for university entrance in Germany), he moved in 1952, motivated by Windhäuser, to Munich to study German language, literature, journalism, dramatics, and art history. During this time he was already sporadically publishing poems and narrations, and was a co-editor of a literary journal. He was fully engaged with the avant-garde of music, arts, literature and film, and in 1953 he was one of… read more
Volker Schlöndorff (born 31 March 1939 in Wiesbaden, Germany) is a Berlin-based German filmmaker.
He won an Oscar as well as the Palme d’or at the Cannes Film Festival for The Tin Drum (1979), the film version of the novel by Nobel Prize-winning author Günter Grass.
Schlöndorff has adapted many literary works for his movies, including some critically well-received US productions, but he is also engaged in post-war German politics. He served as the chief executive for the UFA studio in Babelsberg. Volker Schlöndorff also teaches film and literature at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland, where he conducts an Intensive Summer Seminar.
He was married to fellow film director Margarethe von Trotta from 1971 to 1991. —Wikipedia
Fassbinder’s episode in “Germany in autumn” – (omnibus film by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Alexander Kluge, Volker Schlondorff, Edgar Reitz…- 1978) is exceptionally important work for international audiences because more and more countries are targeted by terrorists with various ideological motivations and because it compares two alternative governmental responses to the terrorist attack. One is solid, rational and psychologically mature – in agreement with democratic principles, and the other is impulsive, hysterical, indiscriminately vengeful – a conservative one that targets not so much perpetrators as the peaceful population. But the main accent of Fassbinder’s short is the depiction of how polarization of the country (Germany reacting on terrorist attack) on a growingly aggressive and extremist conservatives and a growingly fearful and desperate liberals, makes creative and culturally/politically active individuals (personified by Fassbinder playing himself) traumatized, disheartened and unable to think and create in full capacity. Serious art is the child of a democratic worldview, it needs a democratically fertile environment to thrive and any totalitarization of the atmosphere is destructive for both – for the very psychological substratum of democracy and for the very heart of art. As an actor (and self-director) Fassbinder finds an expressive means unique to him, to characterize his frustration and helplessness in front of a growing totalitarization of his country in the autumn of 1977. His own mother, Liselotte Eder (who acted in many of his films) and Armin Meier (his partner in life and one of his regular actors) play themselves as Rainer’s political opponents as they were in real life. L. Eder plays a philistine with a passively democratic views, and Armin – a person with a conservative sensibility and simplemindedly narcissistic reaction on the political events. The heated arguments between Fassbinder and his mother and his close friend became the semantic skeleton of the film. The clash of opposing logics and ideological orientations as they are described is very close to the political climate in U.S., in the 21st century and it is highly illuminating for the American viewers. Fassbinder’s painfully frank, without any embellishment of glamour and sentimental cosmetization, representation of a film-director (who dares to express critical truth not about the past but the actual present of his country), who is reduced by the decision-makers’ intolerance for critical speech - to his private life, is not easy to see. Instead of being satisfied with his status of super-star of the German society, Fassbinder refuses that role as a miserably fake one and instead shows on his own example how tragically helpless “super-stars” are in front of wolfs in a democratic clothing. The depiction of his desperate situation throughout the film is a drastic contrast to the embellished by multicolored wrapping papers and ribbons pop-images with which American movie-makers make themselves objects of idolatry for consumers hooked on fame, wealth and glamour. Fassbinder’s self-representation in “Germany in autumn” as a person reduced (by the government’s intolerance for critical speech) to a banal nudity of an entrenched isolation and despair and who moves around his apartment like a caged animal is his heroic deed as a human being and as an artist. Fassbinder’s short film is tormenting to watch, but after further contemplation it becomes an incredibly stimulating feat that teaches us how to overcome escapist vanity of running after fame and wealth while democracy slips away, and how to live with the truth. Victor Enyutin Please, visit: www.actingoutpolitics.com to read an essay about Fassbinder’s film “Rainer and Armin during ‘The Leaden Times’ (Psychological Background Of The Decision To Suspend Democracy When Terrorists Attack Our Country)” and analysis of the stills from the film.
Mixing documentary footage with dramatised vignettes, this portmanteau film examines the political unrest in Germany at the end of the 1970's. The section directed by Fassbinder is particularly fascinating as it gives us an insight into his personal life at the time, featuring as it does passionate political arguments with his mother and domestic arguments with his lover who went on to commit suicide shortly after...
One of the few (semi) successful attempts at the topical, Euro-centric omnibus film - nearly a decade after the format was scrapped by its jet-setting producers as financially underwhelming. The photography is uniformally gorgeous, much of it worth seeing alone as documentation of the era rendered.
A discussion with one of the leading founders of New German Cinema, upon the release of his films on DVD and his 80th birthday.
Happy Birthday to the author, social critic, television producer and filmmaker.
One of the many ways in which Ule Edel's recent film The Baader Meinhof Complex failed, both artistically and in terms of actual address of
"The idea was to record and respond to the political and culture climate as instantaneously as possible — and, one assumes, intervene