A return to form and content for Volker Schlondorff, once a leading light of the New German Cinema, whose later films took him away from his roots in the overtly political cinema of the 1970s. Here, Schlondorff and co-writer Wolgang Kohlhaase look to Germany's recent past and the sad, violent fate of the radical Left that continues to haunt the German psyche. The film covers two decades in the life of Rita Vogt (Bibiana Beglau), a young member of a German revolutionary terrorist group loosely modeled on the notorious Baader-Meinhoff gang. Rita finds herself seeking refuge in East Germany after a series of fatal actions land her and her anti-Capitalist cohorts on a worldwide most-wanted list. Erwin Hull (Martin Wuttke), a sympathetic officer with the GDR's secret police, offers the gang a choice: Safe passage to Beirut, or brand-new identities ("legends") as law-abiding members of the East German working class. Still optimistic about Germany's socialist future, Rita opts for the latter and finds herself transformed into Susanne Schmidt, a nondescript worker in a drab textile factory. To her dismay, "Susanne's" comrades don't share her enthusiasm for the State; they want nothing more than to move west, and can't understand her commitment. Susanne's disillusionment is compounded by her fear that it's only matter of time before someone recognizes her, and the realization that in renouncing her name, she's also sacrificed control over her life. Schlondorff presents Rita's fictional story as a taut political thriller, and as such, it makes for some pretty exciting entertainment: It's full of bank robberies, jailbreaks, car chases, shoot-outs and "Street Fighting Man." But for all the action, the film is ultimately a tragedy of lost lives, ideals and faith, one keenly felt in Germany today, as the country tries to look to a liberal future while coming to terms with a violent past.
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- Released: 1999
- Rating: NR
- Review: A return to form and content for Volker Schlondorff, once a leading light of the New German Cinema, whose later films took him away from his roots in the overtly political cinema of the 1970s. Here, Schlondorff and co-writer Wolgang Kohlhaase… (more)