Wednesday, 19 October 2011

If Fassbinder were still alive....

Rainer Werner Fassbinder created 41 full-length films, for both cinema and TV, in a short period of 13 years, from 1969 until his death aged 37 in 1982. According to my quick calculations, he pumped out films at a rate of 3.15 per year – thus, if he had lived, and kept up that phenomenal work rate, he would have directed a further total of 91 films. Of course, if it’s true that he took large quantities of drugs and booze in order to maintain his hectic work schedule, then it’s unfeasible to truly imagine the possibility of a further 91 films over 29 years - the only reason fellow drug-and-booze fiend Keith Richards is still rocking on is because The Rolling Stones only release an album every eight years these days, and they're so crap he can't have worked that hard on them in the first place.

Still, it’s fun to play the ‘what-if?’ game. 91 possible films added to his actual 41 makes a forbidding total of 132. Surely with that huge total he'd dominant 'canonical' meta-lists like the "They Shoot Pictures Don't They?" Top 1000 Films Of All-Time. He already has 6 films on that list, so we work a bit of rough-and-ready quickfire calculating, and hey presto he'd have another 14 films on that list. Take that, John Ford.

If he made a 15-hour masterwork out of Doblin’s 400-page Berlin Alexanderplatz, then what would he have done next? Tackled Robert Musil’s 1000-page A Man Without Qualities, and created a 40-hour marathon? Or turned Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past into one of the largest TV epics of all-time? Would he have followed in Wim Wenders footsteps and popped over to the U.S., to try his hand at Hollywood film? Would he have beaten Todd Haynes to creating a neo-Sirkian melodrama set in the 1950’s? Would he elicit tortured performances from actresses such as Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, and Charlotte Gainsbourg, thus making Lars von Trier’s career entirely redundant? Would he infiltrate the world of modern US televisual entertainment, and create a Teutonic-version of Mad Men? Would he remake some of his German films in the US? Remake Fox and his Friends and stick Tom Cruise in the lead role, for the sake of perversity? Or maybe he'd also get into the 3D doco thing, like his New German Cinema pals Wenders and Herzog - but what would he make? Pina seemed suitably Wender-esque, and Cave of Forgotten Dreams has 'Herzog' written all over it, so what kind of doco subject is suitably Fassbinderian? A biopic on Tiger Woods? In 3D? Hmmm.

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