Actress Hanna Schygulla looks back

She was Fassbinder’s muse and has worked with Europe’s greatest directors: On the occasion of her 70th birthday actress Hanna Schygulla looks back.

picture-alliance/dpa-Zentralbild - Hanna  Schygulla
picture-alliance/dpa-Zentralbild - Hanna Schygulla picture-alliance/dpa-Zentralbild - Hanna Schygulla

Their names are closely entwined: Hanna Schygulla and Rainer Werner Fassbinder. The actress became the female anti-star of Germany’s most successful filmmaker in the 1970s and early 1980s and thus the face of New German Film. Schygulla’s unique presence in the role of Maria Braun made her world famous. And she likewise played Effi Briest and Lili Marleen. Writer Georg Stefan Troller once described Hanna Schygulla as “on the one hand overwhelmingly feminine, soft and on the other, standing aloof above thing. She is a narcissus bereft of vanity.”

After Fassbinder’s untimely death in 1982, her long-standing collaboration with directors the likes of Jean-Luc Godard, Marco Ferreri, Ettore Scola, Andrzej Wajda, Alexander Sokurov and Fatih Akin made her one of the very special actresses in European cinema. As early as 1983, Hanna Schygulla won the award for best actress in Cannes – for her role in Marco Ferreri’s film “Storia di Piera”.

In her autobiography, entitled “Wach auf und trauma”, which she published at the end of 2013 to mark her 70th birthday, now firmly a Parisian she tells of her time with Fassbinder and her life in three home countries, namely Poland, Germany and France. Born in Kattowitz in Silesia, she fled with her mother to Munich and grew up during the years of the German economic miracle. Aged only 20 she met Fassbinder: “He was to become the most important person in my path as an actress.” However, after almost 20 years this meeting of creative minds ended in anger. After falling out with Fassbinder Hanna Schygulla moved to Paris, where as a young woman she had already learned the language. There, she continued to work in the movies, but chose to put her career “on hold” for a few years when her elderly parents suddenly needed caring for. Indeed, Hanna Schygulla’s autobiography also tells the tale of the person behind the actress.

“Hanna Schygulla –Traumprotokolle” at Akademie der Künste Berlin from 1 February thru 30 March 2014