Xaver Schwarzenberger


Director, Director Of Photography

About

Birth Place
Austria
Born
April 21, 1946

Biography

Although Schwarzenberger began as a cinematographer in Germany in the 1970s and continued into the 90s ably handling both direction and photography, he first achieved prominence and is perhaps still best known for his work for Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Such lensing talents as Dietrich Lohmann (who dominated Fassbinder's 1969-74 period) and Michael Ballhaus (who handled most of the films ...

Biography

Although Schwarzenberger began as a cinematographer in Germany in the 1970s and continued into the 90s ably handling both direction and photography, he first achieved prominence and is perhaps still best known for his work for Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Such lensing talents as Dietrich Lohmann (who dominated Fassbinder's 1969-74 period) and Michael Ballhaus (who handled most of the films from 1974 to 1978) are mentioned more frequently in discussions of the prolific output of New German Cinema's most important talent. Yet Schwarzenberger, though he made only five films with Fassbinder (compared with the dozen-plus each of Lohmann and Ballhaus), proved to be an important collaborator as well. He was one of the few who could work almost as fast as Fassbinder, and his superb sense of lighting, composition and color contributed substantially to the rich output of Fassbinder's final years before his death in 1982.

Schwarzenberger's earliest credits include the made-for-TV "Totstellen/The Condemned" (1975). He first worked with Fassbinder on the temperamental genius' 13-episode, 15-hour plus, made-for-TV magnum opus, "Berlin Alexanderplatz" (1980), which, despite its length, created quite a buzz on the international art-house circuit. Adding no little to its success was its marvelous sense of period (Germany in the 20s) as caught by its design, Fassbinder's unerring eye and Schwarzenberger's handling of the film's often muted but highly expressive color scheme, which then exploded in the film's surreal epilogue. He next worked with Fassbinder on "Lola" (1981), notable for its deliberately wild use of strong primary colors. He continued with the equally evocative "Lili Marleen" (1981) and "Veronika Voss" (1982), extending the writer-director's critique of Germany's economic recovery via bizarre period revamps of classic melodramas. The duo's last teaming was Fassbinder's final film, "Querelle" (1982), an adaptation of Jean Genet's novel, lensed with an unsettling, beautifully lit intensity which fully conveyed its hothouse gay sensuality.

The same year that Fassbinder died, Schwarzenberger first tried double duty as director and cinematographer. Several of his films have been extremely popular in Germany (1985's "Otto--Der Film" and its 1987 sequel), and his gift for lighting has insured him a certain status as a critic's darling, but the film's themselves have been uneven and lacking a consistent artistic statement. One of his best was his first, "Der Still Ozean/The Silent Ocean" (1982), a small but intense drama, stunningly shot, about a suicidal doctor who profoundly affects a small village. Schwarzenberger did less well, though, with "Waltzes of the Danube" (1984), which he also wrote, and the rather hollow drama "Der Fall Franza" (1986), although it is notable for its breathtaking international scenery. He continued lensing films for other directors, shooting Peter Handke's odd if not entirely successful meditation on eroticism, "The Malady of Death" (1985) and Hans-Jurgen Syberberg's six-hour "The Night" (1985). The first "Otto" film and "Otto--The New Movie" (1987), done in collaboration with their star Otto Waalkes, successfully transferred the sketch comedy antics of the gangly, high-energy TV favorite to the big screen, and also received praise for their visual flair. The same could be said for "Oedipussi" (1988), which Schwarzenberger shot only; subtler in its humor (despite its title), it was another instance of transferring TV sketch humor to cinema. Into the 90s, Schwarzenberger continued alternating directorial credits such as "Tonino and Toinette" (1994) with skillful cinematographic work on comedies such as the satirical, Oscar-nominated "Schtonk!" (1991).

Life Events

1980

First collaboration with Rainer Werner Fassbinder, "Berlin Alexanderplatz"

1982

Last of five collaborations with Fassbinder, "Querelle"

1982

Directed first feature, "Der Stille Ozean/The Silent Ocean", which he also photographed

1984

First screenplay credit, "Donauwalzer/Waltzes of the Danube", a docudrama which he also directed and photographed

1985

Directed and photographed the popular comedy, "Otto--Der Film/Otto--The Film" (1985) and its sequel (co-directed with Otto Waalkes, "Otto--Der Neue Film/Otto--The New Movie" (1987)

Videos

Movie Clip

Veronika Voss (1982) - The Mother Of The Floozy Munich, 1955, we’ve just met psychiatrist Katz (Annemarie Düringer), who’s diverted a reporter trying to recover 300-marks from the one-time film star title character (Rosel Zech) whom, we learn, appears to be her captive, who then visits an old producer friend (Peter Berling), in Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Veronika Voss, 1982.
Veronika Voss (1982) - Things That Were Never Heard In 1955 Munich, a persistent phone caller awakens newspaper sports reporter Robert (Hilmar Thate) and his girlfriend (Cornelia Froboess), and we learn it was the faded film star he rescued from the rain the day before, in director Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s black and white Veronika Voss, 1982.
Veronika Voss (1982) - They Don't Wish To Be Found After his strange second encounter with the title character, a past-her-prime film star with Nazi entanglements, sports reporter Robert (Hiilmar Thate) consults with a colleague (Elisabeth Volkmann) then meets an older couple (pre-WWII German film stars Johanna Hofer and Rudolf Platte) at her supposed address, in Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Veronika Voss, 1982.
Veronika Voss (1982) - Insidious Poison Ambitious and arresting, opening the chronological second but the last to be shot, of director Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s famous BRD Trilogy, Rosel Zech the movie star title character, Volker Spengler her director, Armin Mueller-Stahl her writer, and Hilmar Thate with the umbrella, from Veronika Voss, 1982, Fassbinder himself seated with the star in the cinema.
Querelle (1982) - My Hate Was Simply A Camouflage The tensions growing between the brothers, sailor Querelle (Brad Davis) and bon vivant Robert (Hanno Pöschl), with intense profanity, as director Rainer Werner Fassbinder adds other characters (Jeanne Moreau, Franco Nero) in an unprompted procession of Christ bearing the cross, and choreographed combat, in Querelle, 1982.
Querelle (1982) - Open, Based On Querelle De Brest The extraordinary opening from director Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s final, posthumously released, film, with narration from the Jean Genet novel, introducing Jeanne Moreau, Hanno Pöschl as her lover, Günther Kaufmann her husband, a glimpse of Franco Nero, then Brad Davis as the title character, in Querelle, 1982.
Querelle (1982) - The Two Brothers Resuming the narration from the loosely-followed Jean Genet novel, director Rainer Werner Fassbinder brings his title character (Brad Davis) into the highly stylized brothel, meeting the proprietor Jeanne Moreau, his brother Hanno Pöschl, her husband, the barkeeper Günther Kaufmann and the cop Mario (Burkhard Driest), in Querelle, 1982.
Lola (1981) - The Soul Is Sad Opening scene from director Rainer Werner Fassbinder in the second film in his "BRD" trilogy, Barbara Sukowa the title character, Matthias Fuchs as companion Esslin, Mario Adorf as Schuckert, Karl Bohm "The Mayor," set in the German city of Coburg in 1957, Lola, 1981.
Lola (1981) - Ten Years Of Peace Karin Baal, playing the mother of the title character (Barbara Sukowa, not seen), has her first proper visit with her new boarder, the new building commissioner in town, Von Bohm (Armin Mueller-Stahl), (West) Germany in 1957, in Rainer Werner Fassbinder's Lola, 1981.
Lola (1981) - Your Mother's A Leprous Whore Introducing herself to new city official Von Bohm (Armin Mueller-Stahl), "entertainer" Lola (Barbara Sukowa) strides across the square of Coburg, (West) Germany, confronting his landlady, her mother (Karin Baal), and meeting the American G-I (Gunther Kaufmann), in Rainer Werner Fassbinder's Lola, 1981.

Family

Jorg Schwarzenberger
Cousin
Filmmaker.

Bibliography