Herbert Achternbusch

Article

January 19, 2022

Herbert Achternbusch (born November 23, 1938 as Herbert Schild in Munich; † January 10, 2022 in Munich) was a German writer, film director and painter. He was particularly known for his avant-garde films.

Life

Childhood and youth

Achternbusch was born as the illegitimate child of a dental technician and a sports teacher and grew up with his grandmother in Mietraching near Deggendorf in the Bavarian Forest. Since his late adoption by his biological father in 1960, he has borne the name of Achternbusch. He attended the Comenius-Gymnasium in Deggendorf and was still preparing for his Abitur when his daughter Eva was born in 1959. The child's mother was a classmate. After graduating from high school, he first tried his hand at painting and poetry before studying between 1960 and 1962 at the University of Education in Munich-Pasing, at the Academy of Fine Arts in Nuremberg and for three semesters at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. He painted and made sculptures (during this time he presented his monochrome paintings and etchings at exhibitions in the Haus der Kunst, among other places), married his fellow student Gerda in 1962 and got by with odd jobs (including cigarette salesman at the Oktoberfest).

Writer

In the mid-1960s, following the advice of colleagues and friends such as Hans Erich Nossack, Günter Eich and Martin Walser, Achternbusch switched from painting to writing. From 1964 he published a few small volumes of poems and etchings in irregular succession; In 1969, through Walser's intervention, Suhrkamp Verlag published the first volume of stories by Achternbusch. His first novel Die Alexanderschlacht (1971) was seen as groundbreaking for the avant-garde of young German literature in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1977, Achternbusch lived up to his self-chosen role as an outsider when he burned the check with the prize money for the Petrarch Prize donated by publisher Hubert Burda at the award ceremony and left the event in protest. In addition to his narrative work, he wrote regularly for the theater.

Filmmaker

At the beginning of the 1970s, Achternbusch began shooting his first small films and came into contact with prominent representatives of German auteur films. He played roles in Werner Herzog's feature film Everyone for Himself and God Against All and Volker Schlöndorff's TV film Night in Tyrol, and in 1976 he wrote the screenplay for Herzog's film Heart of Glass. His first feature film as a director was 1974 Das Andechser Feeling. In 1982, allegations of blasphemy against his film The Ghost caused a scandal. The film shows Jesus Christ descending from the cross in a Bavarian monastery to sleep with a young nun. The voluntary self-regulation of the film industry (FSK) decided not to release the film because it attacks the Catholic Church and creates “a basic model of the world that is only pessimistic and nihilistic and that does not allow the viewer any rational processing options”. The film "cannot be expected of the religious feeling of a Catholic part of the population numbering in the millions in a public screening". In Austria, Herwig Nachtmann brought a lawsuit to have the film confiscated in accordance with Article 36 of the Media Act. These were the first cases of confiscation in Austria after freedom of art was enshrined in the Basic Law. Although the FSK reversed its decision after a short time (the film remained banned in Austria and Switzerland), hundreds of Catholics protested in Germany in front of arthouse cinemas . The newly appointed Federal Minister of the Interior, Friedrich Zimmermann, refused the director the prize money for his film The Last Hole, which had won a silver film. Previously, Achternbusch from the Bavarian L

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