Rainer Werner Fassbinder interview by Frank Ripploh//march 1982


What are you afraid of?


Everyone’s afraid of that.

Nope, most people are afraid of dying and not of death itself; it’s the suffering leading up to death, long or brief illnesses, nope, I’m afraid of simply not being here. And that’s childish or not childish—what do I know—up to now I haven’t been able to do anything about it. So I’m always trying to portray attitudes like that of Veronika Voss, to try them out for myself, to see whether they’re possible, whether I could manage to develop such an attitude, to get rid of this fear.

When does it come over you particularly?

Oh, I can’t tell you. It comes over me when I’m writing, when I’m fucking; or during breakfast suddenly I feel afraid.

What do you see as your strong points, your weak points?

Oh, it’s so hard to say such things about yourself, but my strengths and weaknesses are certainly the same thing; there’s this strange compulsion to work, which is certainly a strength and a weakness at the same time.

What does it enable you to get through?

Oh, certainly those dead moments, those empty moments you have in life can be more easily gotten through that way.

Do such moments result from disappointments?

Oh, I don’t think so. I’d say I’m manic-depressive, and I just try to be depressive as seldom as possible. Incredible amounts of work help to bridge the gap.

A person can categorize himself as a democrat, a tyrant, a Christan, a resister, an anarchist, a liberal, a conservative. How do you describe yourself?

I’m a romantic anarchist.



Antichrist: Chronicles of a Psychosis Foretold

Must a child die for the narrative to proceed? In view of one of the most intractable and widespread of tales, the death of Christ, being central to one of the most widespread of religions, is there any surprise to this? Even the Old Testament has its close analogue, with the near sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham. It would appear that such a proto-narrative is deeply engrained in social memory, as much as it’s reverse, patricide/matricide, and resides as a reflection of both biological imperatives as well as those organising social structures. Is this the cautionary tale of what happens to those who do not protect the progeny of the species? In Antichrist, however, there is one final twist. In the epilogue, a repeated telling of this narrative driver, there is a reverse shot structure which does not appear in the prologue: the child walks towards the bathroom and sees his parents in the Freudian “Primal Scene”. There is then an ambiguity in what follows. “She” has seen her child, but does not stop the sex. Has the child’s gaze met hers? This is not made clear with any resultant reverse shot. In a paranoid reading of a demonic progeny of a possessed maternal body, it is entirely possible to construct a narrative where the child, in fact, is following a preordained path, it’s own destruction, an Anti-Christian sacrifice of the child of Satan, in order to put in train the eventual destruction of the mother and the father. This would be a turn-around in the interpretation of the entire narrative. The child then becomes not the innocent cause of the battle between the mother’s psychosis and the father’s paranoia, but joins the ranks of “evil children” of cinema, alongside those appearing in The Bad Seed (Mervyn LeRoy, 1956), The Omen (Richard Donner, 1976) and of course, again, Rosemary’s Baby (and needlessly conveniently for such an argument, is named “Nic”).