Film giant Eichinger dies of heart attack in LA

Germany’s most successful international film producer Bernd Eichinger, responsible for “The Neverending Story,” “Downfall” and the “Resident Evil” series, has died of a heart attack, his agent announced Tuesday night.

Film giant Eichinger dies of heart attack in LA
Photo: DPA

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.

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.”

DAPD/The Local/djw

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Five German drinks to try this summer

There’s nothing quite like a cold drink on a hot summer’s day and the Germans know it well. That’s why they’ve got a variety of tasty alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages to cool them down in the hottest months. Here are five you should try.

Five German drinks to try this summer

Summertime in Germany can get pretty hot, but thankfully there are plenty of popular drinks which can help you cool down, as well as tickle the tastebuds.

In Germany, fizzy water is wildly popular, so it’s not surprising that Sprudel is a key ingredient in most of the drinks on this list.


A Hugo cocktail. Photo: Greta Farnedi/Unsplash

The Hugo is a cocktail made of Prosecco, elderflower syrup, mint leaves, a shot of mineral water and a slice of lime.

This refreshing alcoholic drink was invented by Roland Gruber, a bartender in South Tyrol, the mainly German-speaking region of northern Italy in 2005.

Though the drink wasn’t invented in Germany, it quickly spread across the borders of northern Italy and gained popularity here. Nowadays, you’ll be able to order a Hugo in pretty much any bar in the country.


A woman holds a pint of Radler. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Nicolas Armer

One of the best-known and most popular mixed beer drinks is the Radler: a concoction of beer and lemonade, a bit like a British shandy. In some areas of Germany – particularly in the south – the mixture is called Alster.

Usually, the ratio is 60 percent beer and 40 percent lemonade, but there are also some interesting variants. In some regions of Germany, a distinction is made between sweet (with lemonade) and sour (with water) Radler. Some foolhardy drinkers even mix their beer with cola (called a diesel).

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The German regions producing the most important beer ingredient


A woman pours apple spritz into plastic cups. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Soeren Stache

Apfelschorle is an absolute German classic.

The traditional mix of apple juice and fizzy water is a 1:1 ratio, but if you’re making the drink at home you can adjust the measurements to your liking. 

The concept of Saftschorle (fruit spritzer) has moved way beyond the plain old apple in Germany though. On Supermarket shelves, you’ll find major drinks chains offering a wide variety of fizzy fruit beverages, including  Rhabarbe-Schorle (Rhubarb spritz), Schwarze Johannisbeer-Schorle (Black currant spritz) and Holunderschorle (elderberry spritz).

Berliner Weiße mit Schuss

A woman drinks a Berliner Weiße in Berlin.

A woman drinks a Berliner Weiße in Berlin. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Britta Pedersen

The Berliner Weiße (or Weisse) is an old, German beer, brewed with barley and wheat malt.

As the name suggests, it originates from the German capital, where it was extremely popular in the 19th century and was celebrated as the “Champagne of the North”.

But by the end of the 19th century, sour beer styles, including this one, became increasingly unpopular and they almost died out completely. 

READ ALSO: Five German foods that aren’t what you think they are

So people started mixing the drink with sweet syrup. This gave rise to the trend of drinking Berliner Weissbier with a shot (Schuss) of raspberry or woodruff syrup, which is still widely enjoyed today. Some breweries even ferment fruits such as raspberries or strawberries.

The drink is so well-known in Germany, that there was even a TV series named after it which ran for 10 years 1984 to 1995.


Water and wine in equal parts and both well chilled – a light summer drink. Photo: picture alliance / dpa-tmn | DWI

Another fizzy-water-based German classic is the white wine spritz. 

A wine spritzer is a refreshing drink on warm summer days which has the advantage of not going to your head as quickly as a regular glass of wine. With equal parts fizzy water and wine, the drink has only about 5-6 percent alcohol, compared to glass of pure white wine, which has about 9-14 percent. 

For optimum German-ness when making this drink at home, choose a German white wine such as Müller-Thurgau, Silvaner or Riesling.

Enjoy and drink responsibly!