Monday, January 17, 2022

He was 83 years old. Filmmaker Herbert Achternbusch is dead

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Mourning for Herbert Achternbusch: The novelist, playwright, poet, filmmaker, painter and actor died at the age of 83. He leaves a great work.

Herbert Achternbusch is dead. As the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” reports, the director and writer died earlier this week, according to his companions. He was 83 years old.

Eight years ago, the filmmaker complained of pain in his legs. He was not doing well, he could hardly come down the stairs, he told the German Press Agency at the time. “I don’t do anything anymore, just go to eat and shit,” said Achternbusch on the phone in his notoriously unvarnished manner of speaking.

Herbert Achternbusch has now died. He leaves a great work. His film library lists almost 30 films, 20 plays, 40 book publications and hundreds of large-format pictures. Painting was one of his passions.

Herbert Achternbusch was born the illegitimate son of a sports teacher and a dental technician in Munich and grew up in the Bavarian Forest. After graduating from high school in Cham, he studied a little at the art academies in Munich and Nuremberg and got by with odd jobs before starting to write.

With his first novel “Alexanderschlacht” he secured a firm place in the literary avant-garde of the seventies and eighties. He won the Mülheim Dramatist Prize twice for his theater pieces, which he created in rapid succession. His two-person piece “Gust” (1986) starring Sepp Bierbichler as a farmer who has fallen out of time and is about to lose his wife, ran successfully for years at the Münchner Kammerspiele. In 2017, “Dogtown Munich” premiered at the Munich Volkstheater, once again a commitment to his hometown and perhaps something of a legacy.

Herbert Achternbusch: The painter died at the age of 83.  (Source: imago images)Herbert Achternbusch: The painter died at the age of 83. (Source: imago images)

As early as the 1970s, Achternbusch came into contact with the scene of German auteur filmmakers around Werner Herzog, Volker Schlöndorff and Margarethe von Trotta. His strips, often filmed with little effort, regularly targeted the unadjusted and subversive as well as authoritarian and bigoted Bavarian folk soul. In “Der Depp” (1983) he had his favorite enemy Franz Josef Strauss poisoned, in the semi-documentary “Bierkampf” he reckons with a Bavarian sanctuary: the Oktoberfest.

When he lets Jesus Christ descend from the cross in “Das Gespenst” in order to open a bar with Maria, the then CSU Interior Minister Friedrich Zimmermann had enough. He refused to pay the insubordinate director the last installment because he had injured the “religious feelings of large parts of the population”. After that, Achternbusch never got a leg on the ground on television.

Achternbusch has long been part of the inventory of the Federal Republican-Bavarian Cabinet of Curiosities. On his 80th birthday, the Munich Film Museum paid homage to him with eight of his feature films and a film portrait. Now, three years later, the filmmaker has died.

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