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Talking Germany

Hanna Schygulla, Actress and Chanteuse

Through her collaboration with director Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Hanna Schygulla made her mark on German cinema and gave European film many memorable moments.

Hanna Schygulla was born in 1943 in Königshütte, Upper Silesia, in what is today Chorzów, Poland. She grew up in Munich and initially planned to become a teacher. After finishing high school, she first went to Paris to work as an au pair. Back in Munich, she went on to study German and Romance languages, and began taking acting lessons. There, she met Rainer Werner Fassbinder, who brought her to the stage and began casting her in his films two years later. The last film they made together, “Lili Marleen” in 1980, helped spark her second career as a chanteuse, which she embarked upon in Paris at age 50. She has made the French capital her home for more than three decades. At the height of her fame, Hanna Schygulla withdrew from public life, turning down numerous film roles to instead care for her ailing parents. In recent years, she’s been rediscovered by German directors. She starred in Fatih Akin’s award-winning film "The Edge of Heaven," in which she plays the role of a mother who is mourning her daughter. Most recently, Hanna Schygulla was seen in a film version of Goethe's tragedy, “Faust”, which was directed by Alexander Sokurov of Russia. In 2011, the film was awarded the Golden Lion at the Venice "Biennale."

(First broadcast 08 April 2012)