Herbert Achternbusch, 1938 to 2022
Photo: Effigie / Leemage / picture alliance
"The ego is a wild animal" was the title of an exhibition dedicated to him, of course the saying was his.
Because as a rhetoric he was a genius.
After all, as a filmmaker he is a grandiose loner, as a writer he is a hotshot, as a painter he is a fine spirit.
However, the Bavarian universal artist Herbert Achternbusch, who has now died in Munich at the age of 83, could also be quite exhausting in dealing with those who loved him.
"The more extreme a person is, the more feelings he allows, the more unbearable he becomes," actor Josef Bierbichler once said in a SPIEGEL interview about the difficult friendship with Achternbusch. “A really exciting person is always a complete idiot, a real asshole. At the same time, he can be incredibly attractive and endearing.«
The plays »Ella« and »Gust«, which were real theatrical triumphs for Achternbusch and premiered with Bierbichler as an actor, deal with brutal bluntness, poetry and heated love; one in the mid-1970s in Stuttgart, the other in the mid-1980s in Munich. In some of Achternbusch's best films, including the Oktoberfest drama "Bierkampf" and "Servus Bayern" (both 1977), Bierbichler was in front of the camera with the director. Even more grandiose in both works was Bierbichler's sister Annamirl, who died young and was Achternbusch's partner for eight years. From "Servus Bayern" comes the sentence with which the homeland filmmaker and local poet Achternbusch remained in the memory of many people more thoroughly than with all his other artistic endeavors: "This area has destroyed me, and I will stay as long asuntil you can tell."
Powerful language, poetic obstinacy
In the 1970s and 1980s, Achternbusch was at the height of his somewhat faded fame – as a great fantasist and rebellious artist.
A bit also as a martyr.
At the time, the German Interior Minister Friedrich Zimmermann, a CSU hardliner, refused him the last payment for the film »The Ghost« (1983) on the grounds that the work violated the »religious feelings of large parts of the population«.
For years, no public broadcaster showed Achternbusch films.
The Bavarian outlaw was born in Munich in 1938, he grew up in an unhappy family situation: He was an illegitimate child, the mother's husband killed himself, Achternbusch lived with his grandmother in the Bavarian Forest from the age of five and was only allowed to go out on vacation Visit to mother, to Munich. He did his Abitur in Cham.
He studied rather briefly at the Munich Art Academy and began writing, allegedly on the advice of Martin Walser. Of course he ended up with Suhrkamp Verlag, "The Alexanderschlacht" (1971) and "The Hour of Death" (1975) astounded many critics with their powerful language and their poetic obstinacy. The poet, then in his early 30s, was characterized by a wonderful loudmouth. “I wrote this book and I'm feeling pretty good now. You won't feel any different after reading it,' says the first page of 'The Hour of Death'.
He only came to film "because it's so terribly boring among writers."
Herbert Achternbusch said that into the microphone in 1985 when I visited him in Ambach am Starnberger See, where he lived at the time.
Of course it was coquetry.
He whispered about the theater that he actually hated it and only wrote plays to earn money.
In truth, he quite liked working for the theater, and in later years also as a director.
He seemed to like interacting with the people there, especially the actresses.
But he loved the cinema with all his heart, at least for a while, not just the films of Luis Buñuel.
He learned a bit from Werner Herzog, was allowed to act in his film "Everyone for himself and God against all" and wrote the screenplay for Herzog's "Heart of Glass" in 1976.
The back and forth Herbert
The daring and the wit of Achternbusch's own films are still astounding for today's viewers. For films like Der Komansche (1979), in which a Native American wakes up from years of coma in a Bavarian hospital, and Punch Drunk (1987), a political satire, critics have placed him in a league with Monty Python . When he later appeared in films such as "I Know the Way to the Hofbräuhaus" (1991) as the hero named Hick, it was just enough for comparisons with the great Bavarian humorist Karl Valentin.
Regardless of whether it was really due to Achternbusch's work itself, to a literary overproduction that eventually exhausted even Suhrkamp Verlag, or to the passage of time: after the fall of the Wall, it seemed more and more as if the South German universal genius had come to the end of his wit.
Herbert Achternbusch sought refuge in painting and in some esoteric eccentricities.
He found an art department store in Munich that supported him with orders, and nice accommodation in the city center.
He directed the theatre.
On many evenings he reliably held court at the bar area of the Schneider Bräuhaus im Tal restaurant and showed his brushwork in exhibitions such as "Hinundherbert" in 1996 in the Munich City Museum.
When the "Abendzeitung" asked him on the occasion of a birthday whether his production had come to a halt, he replied: "Slacked?
You could also say: complete.«
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Filmmaker and writer: Herbert Achternbusch is dead
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LITERATURE: Hello, I'm Herbert by Willi Winkler
It has long been reported that Herbert Achternbusch is ill.
According to reports from his confidants, he has recently left his apartment only rarely.
A bitter fate for a man who invented the immortal saying: "It is easy to touch the ground when walking."
But there are also nice ironies in the work of the great artist Herbert Achternbusch, who lived to be 83 years old.
His most successful play »Gust« ends with the following words: »Now I have to go, otherwise I'll get the pain of saying goodbye.
I used to think I'll never be 18... And now I'm 83.«