Entertainment & Arts

Downfall producer Bernd Eichinger dies

Bernd Eichinger at the German Film Prize in Berlin, Germany (24 April 2009)
Image caption Bernd Eichinger's films often tackled controversial subjects

The German film producer and director Bernd Eichinger has died in Los Angeles at the age of 61.

His company, Constantin Media, said he had suffered a sudden heart attack during a meal with family and friends.

Mr Eichinger's production credits included The Name of the Rose, Perfume and the fantasy adventure The Neverending Story.

He was also the screenwriter and producer of the Oscar-nominated Downfall, depicting Hitler's last days.

The film sparked controversy by portraying the private and human side of Hitler - previously considered taboo in German cinema.

Mr Eichinger won many awards for his work and was particularly noted for his skill in turning novels into successful films.

He had also been involved in opera, directing a production of Wagner's Parsifal in 2005.

In 2008, he was criticised by some for his film The Baader Meinhof Complex, about the 1970s German left-wing terror group, the Red Army Faction.

Relatives of people killed by the group accused him of glamorising them, but Mr Eichinger said he was allowing the "monstrosity of the events" to grab the audience's attention.

The film was nominated for a foreign language Oscar and Bafta and won the prestigious Bavarian Film Award in 2009.

Another controversial film produced by Mr Eichinger was the 1982 movie Christiane F, about teenage drug addicts in Berlin.

The German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said his death was a great loss, adding that he had "marked international cinematography as few others have done," the Associated Press reports.

Culture Minister Bernd Neumann described him as "the German movie scene's motor".

Mr Eichinger leaves a wife, Katja, and a daughter from a previous relationship.

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