He became famous through films by Rainer Werner Fassbinder: The actor Günter Lamprecht is dead.
One of the films that ran under the New German Film label in the 1970s was Erwin Keusch’s Das Brot des Bäckers, a typical example of the genre. Günter Lamprecht plays the master baker Baum, who struggles to keep his small workshop afloat in the face of competition from industrial goods from the supermarkets.
At that time, dozens of young directors were pouring out to explore the everyday world just around the corner. The need for authenticity swept away the ideal world clichés that had dominated German cinema since the 1950s. And although many of these films rely on documentary sobriety, actors with classic stage experience were also in demand.
Günter Lamprecht had a lot to offer. After training at the Berlin Max-Reinhardt-School for acting, the son of a taxi driver, born in Berlin in 1930, got his first roles with Erwin Piscator at the Berlin Schillertheater in the mid-fifties. Lamprecht later moved to West Germany, where he accepted engagements in the ensembles of the Bochumer Schauspielhaus and the Theater Oberhausen.
The passion that Günter Lamprecht brought up for his early roles must have had such a convincing effect that, after accidentally straying into a carnival party organized by the bakers’ guild, he was immediately accepted as a fellow trader and appointed honorary baker. His unpretentious approachability was also an important part of his acting potential.
An encounter that had a much greater impact on his career had already occurred in the early 1970s. Rainer Werner Fassbinder, the enfant terrible of young film, first cast Lamprecht in a supporting role in the science fiction film “Die Welt am Draht” and a year later in the film “Martha” with Margit Carstensen and Karl-Heinz Böhm. He thus belonged to the Fassbinder family, which was shaped not least by strong women such as Hanna Schygulla, Ingrid Caven and Barbara Sukowa and striking male faces such as Klaus Löwitsch, Gottfried John and Ivan Desny.
He was Franz Biberkopf
In 1980, Lamprecht took on the role of Fassbinder, which changed his life, in the 14-part TV adaptation of Alexander Döblin’s novel “Berlin Alexanderplatz”. The challenge was not just to embody the coarse and naive Franz Biberkopf, who, despite all efforts to become a good person after being in prison, is unable to resist the pull of the big city. Rather, the trick in terms of acting was to displace the overpowering interpretation of the character that Heinrich George left behind in the 1931 film adaptation. Lamprecht gave his Franz Biberkopf a George-like vitality, but gave him a thoughtfulness and depth that combined in a unique way with Fassbinder’s extended series dramaturgy.
Lamprecht and Fassbinder were also very close on a personal level. The actor describes an encounter in June 1982 in the legendary Paris Bar in West Berlin, where both regretted not being able to speak to each other in more detail in the turbulent environment of a reception given by producer Regina Ziegler. So it was just a warm hug and a reminder to the director to get a good night’s sleep. Fassbinder waved it off with a smile. A few days later, Lamprecht heard from a journalist on the phone that Fassbinder had died of sudden cardiac arrest.
Günter Lamprecht was already one of the first ranks of German actors, he took on many character roles, but he also gave guest performances in Tatort, for which he also played Berlin Chief Inspector Franz Markowitz eight times between 1991 and 1995. The film “Epsteins Nacht”, which tells the life story of three Berlin Jews and in which he stood in front of the camera together with Bruno Ganz and Mario Adorf, was a matter close to his heart.
Lamprecht was shot in Bad Reichenhall in 1999 when a young perpetrator went on a rampage, from which he only slowly recovered. Most recently, Lamprecht could be seen in a small role in the series “Babylon Berlin”, which should not only have reminded him of “Berlin Alexanderplatz”. A two-part autobiography of the great actor, who has now died in Bad Godesberg at the age of 92, has been published by Kiepenheuer & Witsch.