Rainer Werner Fassbinder
By far the best-known director of the New German Cinema, Fassbinder has also been called the most important filmmaker of the post-WWII generation. Exceptionally versatile and prolific, he directed over 40 films between 1969 and 1982; in addition, he wrote most of his scripts, produced and edited many of his films and wrote plays and songs, as well as acting on stage, in his own films and in the films of others. Although he worked in a variety of genres--the gangster film, comedy, science fiction, literary adaptations--most of his stories employed elements of Hollywood melodrama from the 1950s overlayed with social criticism and avant-garde techniques. Fassbinder's expressed desire was to make films that were both popular and critical successes, but assessment of the results has been decidedly mixed: his critics contend that he became so infatuated with the Hollywood forms he tried to appropriate that the political impact of his films is indistinguishable from conventional melodrama, while his admirers argue that he was a postmodernist filmmaker whose films satisfy audience expectations while simultaneously subverting them.