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Film giant Eichinger dies of heart attack in LA

The Local · 26 Jan 2011, 07:04

Published: 26 Jan 2011 07:04 GMT+01:00

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Eichinger died aged 61 of a heart attack while having dinner with friends and family in Los Angeles, his PR agent Just Publicity announced. Among his dinner companions were his wife Katja, 38 and daughter Nina, 29.

He was a powerful figure in German and Hollywood filmmaking. His unexpected death prompted a flood of condolences and expressions of respect.

Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said the nation was “losing a great German filmmaker and producer who has made his mark on the international film industry like few others.”

Click here for a gallery of Eichinger’s films.

Representative of the Federal Government for Culture, Bernd Neumann said he was “deeply shocked” by Eichinger’s unexpected death.

“Bernd Eichinger was a true giant of film – nationally and internationally successful as a writer, director and producer. He has made an enduring impression on film in the past few decades like no one else in Germany.”

Eichinger formed his own production company, Solaris Film, in the 1970s and helped make early films by German directors Wim Wenders and Wolfgang Petersen.

In 1979, Eichinger became director of Constantin, which was then a struggling company but has since become one of Germany’s most important production and distribution houses.

His production credits include Petersen’s fantasy film for children, “The Neverending Story,” as well as “The Name of the Rose,” the medieval mystery based on an Umberto Eco novel, “Downfall,” the film depicting the last 10 days in Adolf Hitler’s bunker (which he also co-wrote) and the video-game based horror series, “Resident Evil.”

He both produced and co-wrote the Oscar-nominated film, “The Baader-Meinhof Complex,” which told the story of the militant leftist group, the Red Army Faction, which created a reign of terror in West Germany in the 1970s and 1980s.

Other successful German films in which Eichinger was involved include ''Perfume: The Story of a Murderer,'' a thriller based on a Patrick Süskind novel, and ''Christiane F.'', the tale of a West Berlin heroin addict.

Story continues below…

Eichinger rejected criticism – including that from Wim Wenders – of “Downfall” for its relatively neutral portrayal of Adolf Hitler, which some viewers felt was not sufficiently condemnatory of the dictator.

“There is no such thing as telling the truth and not taking everything into consideration,” Eichinger said. “Otherwise you are a Stalinist with one view of things. You burn what doesn’t fit your position or put it into the archives because you want to show only bad and good. When I wrote this script, for me the important thing was to show the grey.”

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Your comments about this article

20:42 January 26, 2011 by Prufrock2010
Eichinger, love him or hate him, was a major force in German and international film. He was to a great extent responsible for expanding German film from the parochial to appeal to worldwide audiences. He was a dynamic and talented man who will be sorely missed.
22:51 January 26, 2011 by wood artist
This is a sad day for all of us, especially those amongst us who value honesty in films. While I could applaud many of the pictures this man helped to create, I will pick only one: Downfall.

There are many things people have said, but I doubt we will ever see a portrait of Hitler that reveals so many aspects of his personality. He was not just the "Mad Dictator" and, according to many, could turn on the charm when he wished. He valued loyalty, and his humane treatment of his intimates seems very possible. The performance belongs to Bruno Ganz, but Eichinger was the one willing to put a picture on the screen that wasn't just another cartoonish character.

Thanks for all the wonderful art you created and supported. You will be missed.

23:51 January 26, 2011 by Logic Guy
Well, to reach the age of 61 isn't bad, especially when you consider the many people who never even make it to 40.

I personally believe that 80 is an excellent number.

Eichinger's story is proof that creative people must think about physical health, not just the mental side of things.

Us creative types must occasional fight against going off the "Deep End." Van Gogh, Hugo Vander Gohs and others weren't

able to hold it together. The famous mathmetician John Nash Jr. lost his mind for 20 years, but miraculously was able to recapture his sanity and go onto win a Nobel Prize.

Life is right now, this moment. Go out and do your very best. Put forward your very best moral-based effort, for it is the purpose of our existence.
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