Rainer Werner Fassbinder (31 May 1945 – 10 June 1982), sometimes credited as R. W. Fassbinder, was a West German filmmaker, actor, playwright, theatre director, composer, cinematographer, editor, and essayist. He is widely regarded as a prominent figure and catalyst of the New German Cinema movement.
His first feature-length film was a gangster movie called Love Is Colder Than Death (1969); he scored his first domestic commercial success with The Merchant of Four Seasons (1972) and his first international success with Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974), both of which are considered masterpieces by contemporary critics. Big-budget projects such as Despair (1978), Lili Marleen and Lola (both 1981) followed.
His greatest success came with The Marriage of Maria Braun (1979), chronicling the rise and fall of a German woman in the wake of World War II. Other notable films include The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972), Fox and His Friends (1975), Satan's Brew (1976), and Querelle (1982), all of which focused on gay and lesbian themes.
Fassbinder died on 10 June 1982, at the age of 37, from a lethal cocktail of cocaine and barbiturates. Although his career lasted less than two decades, he was extremely prolific; by the time of his death, he had completed over forty feature films, two television series, three short films, four video productions, and twenty-four plays.