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Filmmaker Top Ten Lists, from Fassbinder, Haneke and Almodovar to Scorsese, Tarantino and More

by Ryan Lattanzio
May 1, 2013 2:30 PM
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Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Rainer Werner Fassbinder

A year before his death in 1982, vigorously prolific German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder -- whose filmography includes over 40 films and the epic TV mini-series "World on a Wire" and "Berlin Alexanderplatz" -- published a list of his top 10 favorite films. It's fascinating to see how each of these films influenced him. Fassbinder's favorite film was Visconti's "The Damned," a visually sumptuous portrayal of societal collapse and excess in Third Reich Germany and no doubt an influence on the German auteur's own "BRD Trilogy," in particular the bawdy bordello-set "Lola."

Fassbinder's 'Lola.'
Fassbinder's 'Lola.'

Fassbinder also named Max Ophuls' 1955 "Lola Montes," a tragic tale of a kept woman shot in the kind of gloriously rendered color Fassbinder would later employ in his own work. And as with a number of top 10 lists compiled by confrontational filmmakers, Pasolini's beautifully ugly descent into hell "Salo" was also a favorite of Fassbinder's, as it is for Michael Haneke.

Haneke's number one pick, Robert Bresson's "Au Hasard Balthazar," is a surprisingly lyrical film given Haneke's austere style and sadistic regard for his audience. Nevertheless "Balthazar" -- a maddeningly allegorical film I have never been able to get my head around, though it will linger there forever -- is as elliptical as any Haneke torture piece. Both filmmakers avoid moralizing in their respective explorations of suffering. Upon seeing "Balthazar" in 1966, Jean-Luc Godard said, "This film is really the world in an hour and a half."

Michael Haneke
Michael Haneke

Excerpted after the jump are lists from Fassbinder and Haneke, as well as Pedro Almodovar, whose list offers an interesting counterpart to Fassbinder's. Both he and Almodovar have sought to consider the queer experience via cinephilia, formal style and colorful, socially-conscious melodrama.

I've also included the stalwart top tens of Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino, two film-historians-as-filmmakers, who love creating these lists. Explore many more over at Sight and Sound. A massive collection has been curated on MUBI as well.


  • Brian | May 2, 2013 11:18 AMReply

    Looking over all five lists, I count ten films I haven't seen and one I've never heard of (The Red Snowball Tree). Scorsese's and Tarantino's lists are the only ones that offer films (two each) that I might include in my own top ten. I saw nine of the films Tarantino lists when they were first released. It wouldn't hurt current film students to watch all 52 films listed.

  • Ted | May 1, 2013 2:52 PMReply

    Haneke's list is most surprising. Salo and Exterminating Angel aren't too surprising. Maybe even Cassavetes makes sense. But I would have never figured Haneke would be a Bresson, Tarkosky, or Chaplin fan.

    Tarantino's list seems the most predictable of any of the directors, at least in terms of seeing obvious influences.

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