Herbert Achternbusch

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Herbert Achternbusch at the opening of the 33rd Munich Film Festival in 2015

Herbert Achternbusch (born November 23, 1938 in Munich ; born Herbert Schild ) is a German writer , film director and painter . He is particularly known for his avant-garde films.


Childhood and youth

Achternbusch was born out of wedlock to a dental technician and a sports teacher and grew up with his grandmother in Mietraching near Deggendorf in the Bavarian Forest . He has been called Achternbusch since his birth father adopted him late in 1960 . He attended the Comenius-Gymnasium Deggendorf and was still preparing for the Abitur when his daughter Eva was born in 1959. The child's mother was a classmate.

After graduating from high school, he first tried his hand at painting and poetry, before studying between 1960 and 1962 successively at the Pädagogische Hochschule München-Pasing, at the Academy of Fine Arts in Nuremberg and for three semesters at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich . He painted, made sculptures ( during this time he presented his monochrome pictures and etchings , among other things, at exhibitions in the Haus der Kunst ), married his fellow student Gerda in 1962 and got by with odd jobs (including cigarette seller at the Oktoberfest ).


In the mid-1960s, Achternbusch switched from painting to writing on the advice of colleagues and friends such as Hans Erich Nossack , Günter Eich and Martin Walser . Since 1964 Achternbusch had published a few small volumes of poems and etchings in loose succession; In 1969, Suhrkamp Verlag published Achternbusch's first volume of stories through Walser's agency.

Achternbusch's first novel Die Alexanderschlacht (1971) was seen as groundbreaking for the avant-garde of young German literature in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1977 Achternbusch lived up to his self-chosen outsider role when he burned the check with the prize money for the Petrarca Prize donated by publisher Hubert Burda at the award ceremony and left the event under protest.

In addition to his narrative work, he writes regularly for the theater.


At the beginning of the 1970s, Achternbusch began shooting his first small films and came into contact with prominent representatives of German auteur films . He played roles in Werner Herzog's film Everyone for himself and God against all and Volker Schlöndorff's TV film Overnight in Tyrol and wrote the screenplay for Herzog's film Heart of Glass in 1976 . Achternbusch's first film as a director was The Andechser Feeling in 1974 .

In 1982 blasphemy allegations against his film Das Gespenst sparked a scandal. The film shows how Jesus Christ descends from the cross in a Bavarian monastery to sleep with a young superior . The Voluntary Self-Control of the Film Industry (FSK) decided not to release the film because it was attacking the Catholic Church and creating “an only pessimistic and nihilistic basic pattern in the world that does not allow the viewer to process it rationally”. The film could "not be expected of the religious feeling of a Catholic part of the population numbering millions in public screening". In Austria, Herwig Nachtmann filed a lawsuit to have the film confiscated under Section 36 of the Media Act . These were the first cases of confiscation in Austria after freedom of art was anchored in the constitution.

The revised Rated although after a short time of its decision (in Austria and Switzerland remained the movie forbidden), but protested in Germany, hundreds of Catholics from the cinemas , some even in the cinema by using it as a toilet. The then newly appointed Federal Minister of the Interior Friedrich Zimmermann refused the director the prize money for his film The Last Hole , which had won a film tape in silver . Achternbusch had previously been refused funding by the Bavarian state government because he had a poet in Servus Bavaria who wants to emigrate to Greenland say: "I don't even want to have died in Bavaria". On June 29, 1983, Federal Interior Minister Zimmermann also refused to support the film “The Wandering Cancer”.

After Zimmermann's decision, Achternbusch led a ten-year legal dispute against the Federal Republic of Germany, which he won in 1992 before the Higher Administrative Court in Münster. Nevertheless, he was no longer supported by the television companies and funding bodies for a very long time.

With The Clap of One Hand , he completed the last of his more than two dozen films in 2002.


Achternbusch is the father of six children and lived alternately in Buchendorf near Munich and in his house in the Austrian Waldviertel . Achternbusch was Annamirl Bierbichler's partner for eight years and temporarily lived with her in her home in Ambach . Achternbusch has lived on Burgstrasse in the center of Munich for years. His daughter Naomi (* 1994) is an actress and starred in his films Picasso in Munich and Das Klatschen der ein Hand .


On Achternbusch's sixtieth birthday, the city of Munich honored him by showing the artist's aphorisms on flags across the city. The Munich Film Festival honored Achternbusch in 2008 with a comprehensive retrospective . On the occasion of his seventieth birthday, the Museum of Modern Art in Passau presented a comprehensive exhibition on the artist's painterly work from 1990 to 2008. “Achternbusch prefers watercolors and mixed media for his pictures , whereby he uses the color in his works impulsively. In his poetically sensitive, powerful and fantastic works, Achternbusch proves to be a powerful narrator. "

Achternbusch himself provided a short version of his life:

“I was born in 1938 after I had already chosen my parents. My mother was a sporty beauty from the country who only felt comfortable in the city. My father was very casual and liked to drink, he was a joker. Hardly in the world, schools, hospitals and all kinds of things haunted me. I did my time and insisted on my free time. I wrote books until it hurt to sit. Then I made films because I wanted to move. The children I have start all over again. Good day!"

Cinematic work

Herbert Achternbusch is an important representative of the German auteur film of the 1970s. In his films, he is mostly an author, director, screenwriter and leading actor in one person (exception: Rita Ritter from 1983). He shot almost exclusively with friends such as the cameraman Jörg Schmidt-Reitwein and the painter friend Heinz Braun . The siblings Sepp and Annamirl Bierbichler , with whom he lived as a shared apartment in Ambach on Lake Starnberg in the eighties , also played a major role . Annamirl was his lover for eight years before he left her for thirty years his junior.

Typical for him are the use of amateur actors alongside professional actors, on the one hand often improvised (example: beer fight ), on the other hand often theatrical and reciting play and the recurring themes of Bavarian Catholicism and provincialism, depicted as bigoted , and being trapped in petty-bourgeois marriage hell. The camera work is mostly static, the films consist almost exclusively of long and medium long shots .

Achternbusch consciously breaks social taboos with his films. He not only attacks the Catholic Church (see above scandal over Das Gespenst ), but also attacks what he believes is a mendacious society with intentionally provocative and tasteless scenes:

  • In Bierkampf (1976) he provokes drunks in police uniform at Oktoberfest until they kick him away.
  • In Der Komantsche (1979) something similar happens during a soccer game in the Olympic Stadium .
  • In where to? (1987) he comments on the AIDS hysteria of the 1980s by having the AIDS actor Kurt Raab talk about his imminent death in a beer garden.
  • In The Last Hole (1981), the main character wants to forget the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust by drinking a schnapps for each murdered Jew. Since that does not succeed, the man throws himself into Stromboli .
  • Achternbusch clearly showed his rejection of the CSU in the final scene of Der Depp (1982), in which the then Prime Minister Franz Josef Strauss is poisoned in the Hofbräuhaus .

Hardly noticed by the general public, Achternbusch has meanwhile made 30 films, "a continuously developed work in which comedy and despair are closer together than in any other German filmmaker."

“Regardless of the usual dramaturgy, Achternbusch formulates radically subjectivistically, ignores aesthetic conventions, mixes up the genres. Achternbusch exaggerates semantics - as with Karl Valentin resiliently logically logical - into the modern absurd, loads them with real horrors from the past and present and is at the same time always spontaneous and playful. "


Etchings and Poetry, Miscellanea


  • Cigarette seller. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main, 1969 (contains the stories cigarette seller , envelope , Rita )
  • The camel. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main, 1969 (contains the stories Tibet , Indio , Afghanistan , May 2, 69 )
  • The power of the lion's roar. edition suhrkamp 439.Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main, 1970.
  • The Battle of Alexander. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main, 1971.
  • L'etat c'est moi. edition suhrkamp 551. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main, 1972. ISBN 9783518105511 .
  • The day will come. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main, 1973, ISBN 3-518-02030-7 .
  • The hour of death. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main, 1975, ISBN 3-518-02004-8 . (Contains, among other things, the film texts on Heart of Glass and Das Andechser Feeling . The paperback edition (st 449) does not contain the film texts.)
  • Land in sight. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main, 1977, ISBN 3-518-02003-X .
  • The house on the Nile. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main, 1981, ISBN 3-518-02026-9 .
  • Revolts. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main, 1982, ISBN 3-518-02020-X .
  • Waves. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main, 1983, ISBN 3-518-04502-4 .
  • Wind. Two thousand and one, Frankfurt am Main, 1984.
  • Path. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main, 1985, ISBN 3-518-03212-7 .
  • Breitenbach. Kiepenheuer and Witsch, Cologne, 1986, ISBN 3-462-01751-9 .
  • The Ambach exile. Kiepenheuer and Witsch, Cologne, 1987, ISBN 3-462-01816-7 .
  • The blue flower. Two thousand and one, Frankfurt am Main, 1987.
  • Nobody is there. Fischer Taschenbuch, Frankfurt am Main, 1992, ISBN 3-596-11399-7 .
  • Genghis Khan's revenge. Verlag Bibliothek der Provinz , Weitra, 1993, ISBN 3-85252-080-0 .
  • The book of Arschi. Hatje, Stuttgart, 1994, ISBN 3-7757-0499-X .
  • Dog days. S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main, 1995, ISBN 3-10-000412-4 .
  • What I think. Goldmann, Munich, 1995, ISBN 3-442-12670-3 .
  • I am a sheep Goldmann, Munich, 1996, ISBN 3-442-30685-X .
  • The finishing touch. Hanser, Munich, 1997, ISBN 3-446-19095-3 .
  • Strike 7 o'clock. Verlag Bibliothek der Provinz, Weitra, 1998, ISBN 3-85252-280-3 .
  • The journey of two monks. Verlag Bibliothek der Provinz, Weitra, 1999, ISBN 3-85252-303-6 .
  • Isn't it nice to see the enemy run out of strength? Verlag Bibliothek der Provinz , Weitra, 2002, ISBN 3-85252-410-5 .


  • 1978: Ella
  • 1979: Gust
  • 1980: Kuschwarda City
  • 1980: Susn
  • 1981: The frog
  • 1981: Plattling
  • 1982: My Herbert
  • 1983: Flood
  • 1983: On the Danube
  • 1985: gone
  • 1988: Linz
  • 1990: Lost
  • 1993: The boot and its socks
  • 1996: My grave inscription
  • 1996: last guest
  • 1998: Dulce est
  • 1998: Tukulti
  • 2000: Stupid Cloud
  • 2000: There in the kafenion
  • 2000: Pallas Athene
  • 2000: The predecessors
  • 2002: Daphne von Andechs
  • 2003: Alkibiades at the end
  • 2004: the world champion . Verlag Bibliothek der Provinz , Weitra, ISBN 3-85252-615-9 .
  • 2005: head and heart . Verlag Bibliothek der Provinz, Weitra, ISBN 3-85252-685-X .
  • 2007: harmony
  • 2008: The yellow rooster of the night: four plays . Fischer (Tb.), Frankfurt, ISBN 978-3-596-18173-5 .
  • 2017: Dogtown Munich
  • 2018: Karpfn (production of Achternbusch's children's book of the same name as a puppet show; text version and direction: Gerd J. Pohl )

radio play

Movie books

  • Hello Bavaria . Peter Kirchheim Verlag, Gauting, 1977, ISBN 3-87410-004-9 .
  • The Komantsche . Verlag Das Wunderhorn, Heidelberg, 1979, ISBN 3-88423-006-9 .
  • The Negro Erwin . Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main, 1981, ISBN 3-518-37182-7 (first published in It's easy to touch the ground while walking )
  • The Olympic champion . Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main, 1982, ISBN 3-518-02032-3 .
  • The last hole . Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main st 803, 1982, ISBN 3-518-37303-X .
  • The idiot . Movie book. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main st 898, 1983, ISBN 3-518-37398-6 .
  • The ghost . Two thousand and one, Frankfurt am Main, 1983.
  • Wandering crab . Two thousand and one, Frankfurt am Main, 1984.
  • The foehn researchers . Two thousand and one, Frankfurt am Main, 1985.
  • Where? Kiepenheuer and Witsch, Cologne, 1988, ISBN 3-462-01925-2 .
  • Mixwix . Kiepenheuer and Witsch, Cologne, 1990, ISBN 3-462-02073-0 .
  • Failure . Verlag Bibliothek der Provinz , Weitra, 1999, ISBN 3-85252-168-8 .


  • Fonts. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main, 1978.
    • 1969. ISBN 3-518-02000-5 . Contains:
      • The camel. (The version contains the texts envelope and Rita from Zigarettenverkäufer (1969), Tibet , Indio , Afganistan and May 2, 69 from Das Kamel (1969) and My girlfriend from the Battle of Alexander (1971).
      • The power of the lion's roar.
    • The Battle of Alexander. ISBN 3-518-02001-3 (The text has been shortened to include My Girlfriend , but contains cigarette sellers from Zigarettenverkäufer (1969), several texts from L 'Etat c'est moi (1972) and the first published text Der Pfahl .)
    • The Atlantic swimmers. ISBN 3-518-02010-2 . Contains:
      • The day will come. (Version significantly changed compared to the first edition.)
      • Heart of Glass. (Film text.)
      • The hour of death. (Without the film texts contained in the first edition.)
      • The Andechs feeling. (Film text.)
      • The Atlantic swimmers. (Film text.)
      • Land in sight. (With the additional text The throne is free .)
      • Beer fight. (Film text.)
      • Hello Bavaria. (Film text.)
      • Ella. (Play.)
      • The young monk. (Film text.)
    • It is easy to touch the ground while walking. ISBN 3-518-02010-2 . Contains:
      • Susn. (Play.)
      • The Komantsche. (Film text.)
      • Gust. (Play.)
      • 1979. (prose.)
      • Kuschwarda City. (Play.)
      • The Negro Erwin. (Film text.)
  • You don't have a chance, but use it. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main and Goldmann, Munich, 1991ff.
    • Volume 1: 1969. Writings 1968–1969. Suhrkamp-Taschenbuch 1231, ISBN 3-518-37731-0 .
    • Volume 2: The Battle of Alexander. Writings 1963–1971. Suhrkamp-Taschenbuch 1232, ISBN 3-518-37732-9 .
    • Volume 3: The Atlantic swimmers. Writings 1973–1979. Suhrkamp-Taschenbuch 1233, ISBN 3-518-37733-7 .
    • Volume 4: The House on the Nile. Writings 1980–1981. Suhrkamp-Taschenbuch 1394, ISBN 3-518-37894-5 .
    • Volume 5: Wind. Writings 1982-1983. Suhrkamp-Taschenbuch 1395, ISBN 3-518-37895-3 .
    • Volume 6: The Foehn researchers. Writings 1984. Suhrkamp-Taschenbuch 1769, ISBN 3-518-38269-1 .
    • Volume 7: Breitenbach. Writings 1985. Goldmann 41112, ISBN 3-442-41112-2 .
    • Volume 8: The Ambach Exile. Writings 1985–1986. Goldmann 41113, ISBN 3-442-41113-0 .
    • Volume 9: Where to? Writings 1985–1988. Goldmann 41114, ISBN 3-442-41114-9 .
  • The insight of the insight. Plays. Fischer Taschenbuch, Frankfurt am Main, 1996, ISBN 3-596-12923-0 .
  • Complete edition. Verlag Bibliothek der Provinz , Weitra, 2002 ff. 4 volumes planned


  • 1970: the child is dead
  • 1972: December 6, 1971
  • 1974: The Andechs feeling
  • 1976: The Atlantic swimmers
  • 1976: Heart of Glass (only screenplay; Director: Werner Herzog)
  • 1977: Beer fight
  • 1978: Hello Bavaria
  • 1978: The young monk
  • 1979: The Komantsche
  • 1981: The Negro Erwin
  • 1981: The last hole
  • 1982: the idiot
  • 1982: the ghost
  • 1983: The usher
  • 1983: The Olympic champion
  • 1984: Wandering Crab
  • 1984: Rita Ritter
  • 1985: The Foehn researchers
  • 1985: blue flowers
  • 1986: Heals Hitler
  • 1987: Punch Drunk
  • 1988: Where to?
  • 1989: Mixwix
  • 1990: Hick's Last Stand
  • 1991: no man's land
  • 1991: I Know The Way To The Hofbrauhaus
  • 1992: I am there, I am there
  • 1994: Off to Tibet!
  • 1995: Hades
  • 1997: Picasso in Munich
  • 1998: New freedom - no jobs Nice Munich: Standstill
  • 2002: The clap of one hand

Movies on DVD

The films The Andechs Feeling , The Atlantic Swimmers , The Ghost , The Olympic Champion and Hick's Last Stand have now been released on DVD. This DVD box also contains an interview with Achternbusch from 1988, the documentary Come to the table and a panel discussion with Achternbusch from the Munich Film Festival in 2008.



Web links

Commons : Herbert Achternbusch  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Nature versus culture: Herbert Achternbusch. Retrieved on March 19, 2020 (German).
  2. Peter Roos: I am an outsider. This is my lot! . In: The time . No. 4/2005; with further links
  3. 25 years ago: "Das Gespenst" premiered. In: due date. Westdeutscher Rundfunk, March 25, 2008, accessed September 30, 2018 .
  4. The freedom of art. Literaturhaus Wien , archived from the original on December 15, 2000 ; accessed on September 30, 2018 : “The artistic creation, the communication of art and its teaching are free. (Federal Constitution, Article 17a) "
  5. a b Herbert Achternbusch retrospective . critic.de, June 29, 2008.
  6. ^ Museum of Modern Art Wörlen Foundation: June 7th. - 03.08. 2008 Herbert Achternbusch. Retrieved March 19, 2020 .
  7. A grantler named Herbert sueddeutsche.de, May 17, 2010.
  8. a b Herbert Achternbusch. Director · Screenwriter · Producer · Actor · Cinematography . deutsches.filmhaus.de, 2007.
  9. bergischgladbach.de: KARPFN after Herbert Achternbusch