German Chancellor Angela Merkel Praises Producer Bernd Eichinger
COLOGNE, Germany – German Chancellor Angela Merkel and foreign minister Guido Westerwelle have joined the chorus of condolences for film producer Bernd Eichinger, who died suddenly of a heart attack in Los Angeles Monday night.
"With him, our cinema loses not only the most successful producer of the last decades but a passionate booster and dreamer," Merkel said. "Millions have him to thank for moving film moments. He lives on in his films, from Christiane F. to Downfall to The Baader Meinhof Complex."
Westerwelle said Eichinger, whose credits also included the Fantastic Four and Resident Evil franchises, was a German filmmaker who "shaped international cinema like few before him."
German television has reacted to news of Eichinger's death by tossing out its schedule and programming his films in tribute. Public net ARD is airing the Oscar-nominated Downfall, about the final days of Adolf Hitler. Bavaria's BR will show children's film The Never-Ending Story. Pay service Sky Deutschland is dedicating its entire Saturday schedule to Eichinger productions, including Oscar-winner Nowhere in Africa, Perfume – The Story of a Murderer and Atomized.
The 61-year-old Eichinger suffered a heart attack while eating dinner with friends and family at the West Hollywood restaurant Cecconi's on Melrose Avenue. His death stunned the German industry, which he had done much to shape.
"He was like a brother, a friend and a partner for me, someone who took his creative obsession unbelievably seriously," director Wolfgang Peterson told the German media.
"I truly loved him," said actor/director Til Schweiger. "It's horrible that he's dead. Far too soon."
Eichinger was working up to his death. One of several projects he had taken on was adapting the real-life kidnapping drama of Austria's Natascha Kampusch for the big screen.