Wednesday, February 8, 2012

You Are Fucking Right R.W.F.

Passages from a letter exchange between Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Dirk Bogarde, shortly after finishing the shooting of Despair in Germany, June 1977 (from Sight and Sound, July 1992).

20 June 1977

Lieber Dirk, […] I thank you, that you gave me your authority without making fear, because fear makes sick, and normally authority goes together with fear, but you did show me a way how to combine authority with freedom, which I knew so far only theoretically and what is one of the most important ideas for work and life.

More than likely there is more despair than anything else. But – and that is what I think – life is timeless and end is endless. And this means, it is not so sad like it seems. Danke, R. W. F

24 June 1977

My dear Rainer, […] Your letter gave me great happiness as well as great sadness too. Paradox? Perhaps. I suppose I have never worked ever with anyone before who had a ‘Death Wish’. […] You say in your letter to me that ‘More likely there is more despair than anything else…’ assume you mean life? That is fundamentally NOT TRUE! Life is full of hope and promise.

[…] I didn’t actually ‘learn’ anything from you, I suppose…that is not important…but I hope that I was able to bring to you some of the learning or teaching which I have had from people like Cukor, Milestone, Clayton, Losey, Visconti and Resnais and the rest of them…and to SHARE that learning with someone like you is quite wonderful.

[…]

The Cinema needs you very much. You have a tremendous amount to give it… there are marvelous people waiting to work with and for you … stay with us! There is so much for you to do, to give, so many roads for you to take ... Life is not just one boring round of Clubs and Discos and Pills…and Pot. Use, them, of course, for the relaxation you need from time to time…but not as often as you do. Don't live by them, or by the mindless people who exist in that world. They will only swamp you and kill you off far, far quicker than your own feelings of disillusion or so-called Despair.

As you say at the closing of your letter... 'Life is not, maybe, so sad like it seems' ... you are Fucking right R.W.F.! Life is bloody marvelous and you should be so damned grateful that you have the youth and the brilliance to storm it.

Now I'll stop. God knows what you will make of this. I don't know. But it comes with my warmest respect and affection, and gratitude, for all the kindness you have shown me in the last few weeks, and all the security which you gave me during, for me at least, a very difficult and bewildering (at times!) assignment. It is something I will never forget and a period of time which I would never have missed for anything. Thank you.

Remember: Despair comes when you have nothing - you have everything – and everything to gain. Affectionately Dirk.

PS. Whatever you do, do not dub the cast in English voices. It will be disaster. D.

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