Entries tagged with “Barbara Sukowa”.


An untimely death cut short in 1982, at the age of 37, the life and cinematographic career of Rainer Werner Fassbinder. We can only wonder at how much he succeeded to achieve in such a short time and we can only speculate on how his cinema work and the thematic of his films could have looked like in the years of and after the fall of the Berlin wall and the reunification of Germany. The films that he left are still amazing cinematographic achievements and some of the sharpest and critical visions of the recent past of Germany. He bluntly explored fascism and corrupt politics, family relations, sex and sexual orientation, race and morality. ‘Lola‘ which was made the year before his death is a cynical and sarcastic look at what he perceived as the corrupt foundations of the Federal Republic of Germany.

 

source https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0082671

source https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0082671

 

In this film Fassbinder frontally attacks the sacred cow myth of the German post-war renewal. The story is set in a small German town about one decade after the end of WWII. The war seems to be a memory that most people try to bury, the city rides on a development wave, ruins disappear and make place for modern buildings, life improves. Building contractors and the ‘new politicians’ who support them are the persons of the day. And yet, many things did not change that much.  ’Lola‘ has two sources of inspiration, the 1930s masterpiece  The Blue Angel directed by Josef von Sternberg with Marlene Dietrich in the lead role, and Gogol’s ‘The Government Inspector’ (or ‘Der Revisor’ as it is known in German). The first connects the story in the film with the past of the pre-war Germany, its moral and political corruption that nurtured the conditions of the rise of Nazism. The second broadens the vision to the more universal theme of the powerful stranger coming to a closed community, questioning its foundations, shaking its twisted rules and trying to change the unfair ways of doing things.

 

(video source TobisFilmclub)

 

The two principal heroes, the singer-prostitute Lola (Barbara Sukowa) and the building inspector Von Bohm (Armin Mueller-Stahl) seem also directly inspired by the lead characters in the two works, it is their bringing together and the un-probable relationship that develops between them that dominates in an original manner the script. Lola is forced as many other widows of the time (and heroines of the films of Fassbinder ) to descend into prostitution to sustain her family (daughter and mother), however she is not only a victim, but rather a complex and manipulative character who tries to use her beauty to achieve social recognition. Von Bohm becomes a character of equal weight in the film, his honesty and integrity being put at test by the social environment and his falling in love with the wrong woman. The acting of both Barbara Sukowa and Armin Mueller-Stahl is superb and remains the best part of this film. Also beautiful and expressive is the camera work, just watch the games of colors and the lightning of the characters. Some other parts of the film did not survive that well the 37 years since the film was made. Mario Adorf ‘s interpretation of the local tycoon seems to gross and grotesque for the tastes of today. The motivations of the characters and their changes in mood are not that clear. The important aspect however is that the rage of Fassbinder is here, as visible as ever, and the critical flame that he lit with his works, never avoiding or running away from a good controversy, are still a model for German cinema.

Hannah Arendt ignited controversies during her life, and many of these controversies continued after her death. Margarethe von Trotta‘s filmed biography catches some of them (like the fascination that turned into a love story between the bright Jewish student and the much elder philosopher Heidegger, a Nazi sympathizer) and focuses on one specifically – Arendt’s coverage of the Eichmann trial and her relationship with fellow Jews, the Jewish state and eventually to her own Jewishness. A precipice separated Hanna Arendt’s views from the one of the Jewish Israelis. Where the survivors in Israel were seeing a process of justice in the name of the millions murdered with no justice of mercy, the American refugee was seeing a public revenge that was not judging the deeds of Eichmann but the wrongs of the system to which he belonged. Let me say that as an Israeli I have little sympathy for her lack of sympathy towards Israel, yet I believe that on the ideas plan Hannah Arendt (the film) makes a convincing case for the humanistic views of Hannah Arendt the philosopher. Unfortunately this does not turn into a good movie.

 

source www.movie-magazin.de

source www.movie-magazin.de

 

The story in the film starts with the kidnapping of Eichmann in Argentina by the agents of Mossad. The next scene introduces the American philosopher of Jewish origin and German culture learning the news and commenting them with her husband in their apartment with a view in New York. She had written a book (maybe even the ultimate book) about the roots of evil, so she must travel to Israel and watch the trial of Eichmann in order to understand and see the instantiation of evil with her own eyes. Arrived in Israel she comes to the realization that the source of the crimes of Eichmann is not in ideology and not in some malady, but in the blind allegiance to rules, and in the refusal to measure the orders he received and his own deeds on a human or moral scale. This brings her in conflict with the greatest majority of her Jewish and Israeli friends, as the gap between the perceptions is immediately obvious. Despite having lived through similar ordeals, her conclusions are different and among all she misses the tribal instinct that brings together people of the same ethnic origin. She loves people and friends, not nations and countries, not even her own.

 

(video source The Match Factory)

 

The problem with Hannah Arendt (the film) is that it is plainly and completely uninteresting film-making. It seldom exceeds the borders of respectful but boring biographical movies. There is only one memorable scene in the film, the one where the philosopher talks to her students and the staff of the university – Barbara Sukowa is passionate and convincing, succeeding to bring on her side not only the audience in the film, but also the viewers in the cinema hall. The rest is full with banal and rhetoric verbiage, a lot of stereotypes, and non-significant domestic intrigue. I wonder if Hannah Arendt, the rebellious philosopher and nonconformist character would have liked this film. I doubt it.