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Rainer Werner Fassbinder's 10 favourite films of all time

“It isn’t easy to accept that suffering can also be beautiful… it’s difficult. It’s something you can only understand if you dig deeply into yourself.” — Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Rainer Werner Fassbinder, a German filmmaker revered by many as a pivotal figure of the New German Cinema movement, was hugely prolific while active in a career that lasted less than two decades.

Introducing himself to the world of cinema with the release of his first feature-length film in 1969, Fassbinder’s gangster film Love Is Colder Than Death garnered mixed reviews upon release but did lay the foundations, stylistically, for what was to come. Across Europe, a new wave of cinema was emerging and Fassbinder was at the centre of it.

Films such as Katzelmacher and the controversial pictures Pioneers in Ingolstadt and Whity would follow, Fassbinder pushing the boundaries of what was acceptable at the time of release with a depiction of “human savagery”, which caused a major stir.

Commercial and international success arrived soon after, with 1972 The Merchant of Four Seasons, and, two years later, Ali: Fear Eats the Soul, which had established his creditability, efficiency and reliability as big-budget financiers reached out to Fassbinder to cash in on his rising stock and make some real Hollywood money for the unusual artist.

The major step up in budget allowed the German filmmaker to create masterpieces such as Despair, Lola and, of course, the brilliant World War II epic The Marriage of Maria Braun, which remains his lasting legacy. In just under 20 years, Fassbinder created 40 feature films, two television series and three short films before he died at the age of 37 after taking a lethal cocktail of cocaine and barbiturates.

While alive, Fassbinder openly credited the likes of Jean-Luc Godard, Luchino Visconti and novelist Alfred Döblin as a source of inspiration for his work. With that in mind, it should come as little surprise that, when asked to create a list of his favourite films of all time, Fassbinder chose The Damned by Luchino Visconti at the top of the pile.

Despite being influenced by Godard, Fassbinder decided not to include him in his list and instead referenced the likes of Max Ophuls, Howard Hawks, Nicholas Ray and more.

You can see the full list, below.

Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s 10 Favourite Films:

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