Bernd Eichinger

Bernd Eichinger

Darsteller, Regie, Drehbuch, Produzent, Produktionsleitung
*11.04.1949 Neuburg an der Donau; †24.01.2011 Los Angeles, Kalifornien, USA

Biography

Bernd Eichinger was born April 11, 1949, in Neuburg/Donau as the son of the doctor Manfred Eichinger and his wife Ilse. He grew up in Reichartshofen, attended a boarding school in the Bavarian Forest and obtained his A-levels at the Erasmus Grasser Gymnasium in Munich. During his time at school, Eichinger occupied himself with writing, painting and music rather than with film. In 1970, however, he enrolled at the newly-established Academy for Television & Film in Munich. In addition, he gained practical work experience at the Bavaria Atelier GmbH. In 1973, he finished his directing studies (with focus on production) with the 45-minute film "Weihnachtsmärchen", in which he also played the leading role alongside Marquard Bohm. The sound was done by Peter Fratzscher, Ulrich Edel acted as assistant director.

Subsequently, Eichinger wrote screenplays and worked as head of production at the Bavarian Broadcasting Corporation. In 1974, he founded his own production company Solaris Filmproduktion with a capital stock of DM 20.000. While producing his first movies, he was lucky enough to be able to benefit from existing financing networks.Thus, he made use of depreciation money (Roland Klick’s Simmel adaptation "Lieb Vaterland magst ruhig sein"), funding money ("Der starke Ferdinand", directed by Alexander Kluge), or television money ("Falsche Bewegung", directed by Wim Wenders).

Alongside the film distributor Filmverlag der Autoren, Eichinger was considered as the most important producer of the New German Cinema period, albeit only for a short while. Up until 1977, Solaris-Film produced movies such as Edgar Reitz‘s "Stunde Null" ("Zero Hour"), Erika Runge‘s "Michael", Jochen Richter‘s "Umarmungen", Uschi Reich’s "Ich heiße Marianne und du?", Heidi Genée’s "Grete Minde", H. J. Syberberg’s "Hitler. Ein Film aus Deutschland" ("Hitler: A Film from Germany"), as well as Hans W. Geissendörfer’s films "Die Wildente" ("The Wild Duck") and "Die gläserne Zelle" ("The Glass Cell"). The latter won a German Film Award and received an Oscar nomination.

When Constantin Film was in trouble in 1979, Eichinger composed a 30-page study on mistakes, shortcomings and possible solutions for financial reorganization. Subsequently, he became both a co-partner and general manager of the company, which he renamed Neue Constantin. The first big project was supposed to be the adaptation of the bestselling biography "Christiane F. – Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo" ("We Children from Bahnhof Zoo"). Eichinger – a comics fan with a passion for sneakers and jeans – planned to turn the popular German book into a movie, which could also be distributed internationally.

Despite being a follower of clearly-structured narrative films, he repeatedly had to collaborate with headstrong individualists such as Wenders, Kluge, and Reitz in the past. This time around, he himself could choose a director. His first choice was Roland Klick whose films "Deadlock" (1970) and "Supermarkt" (1973) had proven that innovative directing and public appeal do not have to contradict each other. The collaboration promised to establish a competitive German alternative to Hollywood – something Rainer Werner Fassbinder had in mind, too. Just like Fassbinder, however, Eichinger is a power seeker, unable to collaborate with other strong personalities. Thus, Uli Edel and Wolfgang Petersen, two rather adaptable craftsmen, became his favorite directors. Much later, Eichinger was able to befriend members of the third generation of New German Cinema such as Doris Dörrie, Sönke Wortmann, Nico Hofmann, and Joseph Vilsmaier. While "Christiane F." and "Last Exit Brooklyn" were directed by Uli Edel, Wolfgang Petersen directed "Das Boot" ("The Boat") and "Die unendliche Geschichte" ("The Neverending Story").

In spite of having only a comparatively small budget at his disposal, Eichinger soon became a central figure in German cinema and involved himself actively in every aspect of the filmmaking process - even if he acted as 'just' the distributor. To strengthen his capital, the German media group Kirch-Gruppe joined the Neue Constantin as a minor shareholder. The actual balance of power remains unclear.

In 1985/1986, Eichinger realized his most ambitious and possibly most felicitous project, the adaptation of Umberto Eco’s historical novel "The Name of the Rose" (directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud). Luckily, media mogul Kirch allowed Eichinger to take all the liberties he wanted.

In 1991, Eichinger established the subsidiary Constantin Film Development Inc. in Los Angeles. However, his Hollywood dream of being able to produce big budget movies shot in English eventually turned out to be a disappointment.

Frustrated, he went back to his German roots in 1995. He developed a 12-part series labeled "German Classics" for the Kirch-controlled television station Sat.1. The series was comprised of remakes of past film successes. Sat.1 broadcasted the first four of these movies during the 1996 holiday season. Films by Rolf Thiele (1958), Georg Tressler (1956), Hans Quest (1955), and Ladislao Vajda (1958) were adapted for television: Eichinger himself directed "Das Mädchen Rosemarie" ("A Girl Called Rosemary"), Urs Egger directed "Die Halbstarken", Sönke Wortmann directed "Charley"s Tante" ("Charly’s Aunt"), and Nico Hofmann directed "Es geschah am hellichten Tag". Despite heavy promotion, however, the ratings were low. It seems unlikely that the series will ever be continued. Hofmann’s contribution received the best reviews, probably because the issue of child abuse is still of current interest. Eichinger’s film, on the other hand, drew some (possibly unjustified) scorn. "Das Mädchen Rosemarie" was his first true directorial effort, shot quickly and on a low-budget, simplistically melodramatic – and by no means worse than for example Fassbinder’s "Lola".

With Helmut Dietl’s "Rossini oder die mörderische Frage, wer mit wem schlief" ("Rossini", 1997), Eichinger and his Munich clique received their very own film saga. Dietl realized that Eichinger has a somewhat polarizing personality: One can either love him or hate him. To judge him fairly, however, is difficult. He is criticized by many people who are unable to accomplish what he has accomplished. He has learned how to balance success and failure. And while disliking auteur movies, he loves cinema.

In 1999, Eichinger directed "Der Große Bagarozy" ("The Devil and Ms. D") for the big screen. On occasion of the premiere, he converted the area surrounding the Munich "Maxx" movie theater into a nocturnal Arcadia.

With the television film "Vera Brühne" (2001), Bernd Eichinger took on yet another specifically German topic. "The story must be right. That’s all that counts in filmmaking." Attaching great importance to the choice of subject, Eichinger keeps switching between national topics – including the slapstick comedy "Ballermann 6" – and spectacular international productions. In 2001, he produced Paul W. S. Anderson’s computer game adaptation "Resident Evil", starring Milla Jovovich.

Due to Constantin Film’s poor financial situation Eichinger resigned from his position as chairman and concentrated on his work as a producer. He helmed Rainer Matsutani’s "666 – Traue keinem, mit dem du schläfst" ("666: In Bed with the Devil") for Engram Pictures and the teenager comedy "Knallharte Jungs" for Constantin Film Produktion GmbH. Meanwhile, Michael "Bully" Herbig’s "Der Schuh des Manitu" ("Manitou's Shoe"), a parody of the German-made Winnetou westerns of the 1960s, emerged as the most successful German film in decades. Being involved as both a co-producer and distributor, Constantin was able to improve its balance sheet.

"Der Untergang" ("The Downfall", 2003/2004) drew international attention. Written and produced by Bernd Eichinger, the elaborately staged drama about the final days of Adolf Hitler provoked a lot of discussion and made a lot of money both at home and overseas. Furthermore, it received an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film.

Subsequently, Eichinger produced Doris Dörrie’s post-feminist romantic comedy "Der Fischer und seine Frau" (2004/2005) as well as Oskar Rohler’s star-studded adaptation of Michel Houellebecq’s novel "The Elementary Particles" (2005/2006). With "Perfume: The Story of a Murderer", Eichinger worked on another big international co-production. Directed by Tom Tykwer, the adaptation of Patrick Süskind’s bestselling novel was shot in English and released in late summer of 2006. In addition to several other accolades, the film received six German Film Awards.

With Uli Edel, Eichinger collaborated on yet another monumental piece of work: Based on Stefan Aust’s standard reference book of the same title, "Baader Meinhof Komplex" ("The Baader Meinhof Complex") traces the history of the West German terrorist group Red Army Fraction (RAF). The screenplay was written by Bernd Eichinger. Featuring a prominent cast of actors, "Baader Meinhof Komplex" received a lot of public attention on its release in September 2008.

On January 24th 2011, Bernd Eichinger unexpectedly passed away in Los Angeles after suffering from a severe heart attack. His untimely death was a shock to the worldwide film community.

Filmography

2012/2013 3096 Tage
Screenplay
 
2012 Der Bernd
Participation
 
2010 Lieben lernen
Participation
 
2009/2010 Resident Evil: Afterlife
Producer
 
2009/2010 Zeiten ändern Dich
Screenplay, Producer
 
2009-2011 Die Superbullen
Producer
 
2008 Ich habe den Film im Kopf - Günter Rohrbach
Participation
 
2007/2008 Der Baader Meinhof Komplex
Screenplay, Producer
 
2007 Münchner (Filmfest-) Geschichten
Participation
 
2006/2007 Resident Evil: Extinction
Producer
 
2006/2007 Pornorama oder Die Bekenntnisse der mannstollen Näherin Rita Brauchts
Producer
 
2005/2006 DOA: Dead or Alive
Producer
 
2005/2006 Das Parfum - Die Geschichte eines Mörders
Screenplay, Producer
 
2005/2006 Elementarteilchen
Producer
 
2004/2005 Der Fischer und seine Frau
Producer
 
2003/2004 Der Untergang
Screenplay, Producer
 
2003/2004 Hitlers letzte Tage. Der Film "Der Untergang"
Participation
 
2003/2004 Resident Evil: Apocalypse
Executive producer
 
2003 Werner - Gekotzt wird später!
Producer
 
2002/2003 Die Klasse von '99 - Schule war gestern - Leben ist jetzt
Co-Producer
 
2002/2003 Musen, Macht und Glamour - Die Welt der Maximilianstrasse
Participation
 
2001/2002 Wie die Karnickel
Producer
 
2001/2002 Resident Evil
Producer
 
2001/2002 Nackt
Producer
 
2001/2002 Knallharte Jungs
Producer
 
2001/2002 666 Traue keinem mit dem du schläfst
Producer
 
2001 Nirgendwo in Afrika
Co-Producer
 
2000/2001 Vera Brühne
Producer
 
2000/2001 Sass
Executive producer
 
2000/2001 Der Schuh des Manitu
Producer
 
2000 Bernd Eichinger. Wenn das Leben zum Kino wird
Participation
 
2000 Schule
Co-Producer
 
1999/2000 Harte Jungs
Producer
 
1998/1999 Der große Bagarozy
Director, Screenplay, Producer
 
1998 Leslie Nielsen ist sehr verdächtig
Producer
 
1997/1998 Opernball
Producer
 
1997/1998 Bin ich schön?
Producer
 
1997/1998 Der Campus
Producer
 
1997 Ballermann 6
Producer
 
1996/1997 Knockin' On Heaven's Door
Cast
 
1996/1997 Prinz Eisenherz
Executive producer
 
1996/1997 Die drei Mädels von der Tankstelle
Producer
 
1996/1997 Fräulein Smillas Gespür für Schnee
Producer
 
1996 Es geschah am hellichten Tag
Screenplay, Producer
 
1996 Charleys Tante
Producer
 
1996 Das Mädchen Rosemarie
Director, Screenplay, Producer
 
1996 Die Halbstarken
Screenplay, Producer
 
1996 Hollywood, Germany - Die amerikanische Herausforderung
Participation
 
1995/1996 Das Superweib
Producer
 
1995/1996 Und keiner weint mir nach
Producer, Co-Producer
 
1995/1996 Abbuzze!
Producer
 
1995/1996 Werner - das muß kesseln!!!
Producer
 
1994/1995 Vom Tatort zur Traumfabrik. Deutsche Filmemacher zurück in Hollywood
Participation
 
1994 Der bewegte Mann
Producer
 
1994 Voll normaaal
Producer
 
1993 Das Geisterhaus
Producer
 
1992/1993 Der Zementgarten
Executive producer
 
1992/1993 Body of Evidence
Co-Producer
 
1991/1992 Ein Fall für TKKG Drachenauge
Producer
 
1991/1992 Salz auf unserer Haut
Producer
 
1991 Manta Manta
Producer
 
1990 Feuer, Eis & Dynamit
Producer
 
1989/1990 Werner - Beinhart!
Producer
 
1989 Letzte Ausfahrt Brooklyn
Producer
 
1987/1988 Ich und Er
Producer
 
1986/1987 Zabou
Co-Producer
 
1986/1987 Der Unsichtbare
Co-Producer
 
1985/1986 Der Name der Rose
Producer
 
1985 Zahn um Zahn
Co-Producer
 
1985 Drei gegen Drei
Producer
 
1985 Der Formel Eins Film
Co-Producer
 
1984/1985 King Kongs Faust
Cast
 
1984 Hollywood in München
Participation
 
1983/1984 Die unendliche Geschichte
Producer
 
1983 Kehraus
Co-Producer
 
1982/1983 Gib Gas - Ich will Spaß
Producer
 
1982-1984 Das Arche Noah Prinzip
Co-Producer
 
1981/1982 Der Tod in der Waschstraße
Producer
 
1981/1982 Super-Biester! 'nen Freund zum Geburtstag
Co-Producer
 
1981-1984 Heimat. Eine Chronik in elf Teilen. 10. Teil: Die stolzen Jahre (1967 - 1969)
Cast
 
1980/1981 Stachel im Fleisch
Producer
 
1980/1981 Christiane F. - Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo
Producer
 
1979/1980 Die Ortliebschen Frauen
Producer
 
1979 ...sonst würde das Kino sterben - Drei junge deutsche Filmproduzenten
Participation
 
1978/1979 Geschichten aus dem Wiener Wald
Line producer
 
1978/1979 Theodor Chindler
Producer
 
1977/1978 Die gläserne Zelle
Line producer
 
1977/1978 Taugenichts
Producer, Co-Producer
 
1977 Hitler. Ein Film aus Deutschland. 4. Teil: Wir Kinder der Hölle
Producer, Line producer
 
1977 Hitler. Ein Film aus Deutschland. 3. Teil: Das Ende eines Wintermärchens
Producer, Line producer
 
1977 Hitler. Ein Film aus Deutschland. 2. Teil: Ein deutscher Traum
Producer, Line producer
 
1977 Hitler. Ein Film aus Deutschland. 1. Teil: Der Graal
Producer, Line producer
 
1977 Die Konsequenz
Producer
 
1977 Tauwetter
Co-Producer
 
1977 Hitler - Ein Film aus Deutschland
Line producer
 
1976/1977 Grete Minde - Der Wald ist voller Wölfe
Producer
 
1976/1977 Stunde Null
Line producer
 
1976 Die Wildente
Producer
 
1975/1976 Der starke Ferdinand
Unit production manager
 
1975/1976 Ich heiß' Marianne, und Du...?
Producer
 
1975/1976 Lieb Vaterland, magst ruhig sein
Producer
 
1975/1976 Umarmungen und andere Sachen
Co-Producer
 
1975 Michael oder Die Schwierigkeit mit dem Glück
Producer
 
1974/1975 Falsche Bewegung
Producer
 
1974/1975 Weihnachtsmärchen
Cast, Director, Screenplay
 
1974 Karl May
Unit production manager
 
1973/1974 Die Eltern
Screenplay
 
1973/1974 Perahim - die zweite Chance
Screenplay, Unit production manager
 
1973 Kidnapping
Director, Screenplay
 
1972 Der kleine Soldat
Unit production manager
 
1972 Canossa
Director, Screenplay
 
1971 Das erste Jahr
Unit production manager
 

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