Die Verlorene Ehre der Katharina Blum oder: Wie Gewalt entstehen und wohin sie führen kann (The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum) Reviews
July 25, 2011
Brilliant! Who could have foreseen how relevant reactionary right-wing conservativism and a terrorizing media would be to contemporary American politics?
July 27, 2011
A taut thriller that is just as relevant today as when it was produced, more than thirty five years ago. A young woman spends a night with a suspected terrorist and becomes the object of a police investigation and an intense slur campaign waged by a smarmy, unscrupulous news hound and his photographer. The very beautiful Angela Winkler plays the title character and exudes a very convincing aura of naivete and bewilderment during the interrogations. We are never sure just how much she really knows, or whether she is, as she maintains, an innocent caught up in the intrigue of others. But the thrust of the movie is the way that she is portrayed in the media of the day. One could not watch without recognizing how difficult it is to recover ones good name when all of your dirty laundry (and some that was made up out of whole cloth) has been aired. Just ask Casey Anthony. The ending, while shocking, seems almost justifiable given the events as they unfolded. Jurgen Prochnow plays the terrorist, Ludwig, quietly and darkly menacing. Mario Adorf plays the lead investigator who seems a little too cozy with the reporter, played by Dieter Laser.
August 30, 2013
There are very few German movies I like. This is no exception. The only thing worthwhile is the justifiably negative portrayal of government/law enforcement/media.
August 20, 2012
Schlondorff and Trotta direct an absolute killer of a movie. I would compare this to 2012-indie hit "Compliance" in its examination of what a rigid, rule-based society can still do to the tearing down of the individual, without much exterior violence. Maybe till the early 2000s, this film would have seemed dated, even though anyone can see it is hugely effective and well-acted, especially by Angela Winkler as Katharina. But, since 2002 or so, this dated-ness doesn't hold. Just replace Springer-Verlag with News Corporation and the fear of radical leftists with the fear of Islamic terrorists, and this is just as potent today as it was in 1970s West Germany. Unmissable.
September 20, 2007
Despite Heinrich Böll's extreme politics and his support for the Baader-Meinhof Gang, it's hard to deny that The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum is one of the best novels of the 20th century. Inspired by vicious attacks on Böll by Axel Springer through his newspaper Bild-Zeitung, it represents perhaps the most scathing attack on yellow journalism ever penned. The narrative revolves around Katharina Blum, whose name is dragged through the mud by both the police and the press, who even manage to work together in the smear campaign. She is accused of aiding and abetting a known felon who she falls for on a chance meeting. The stress from the very pointed and accusatory police interrogation, being sensationalized front page fodder for the tabloids as well as being in love with a man on the lam all cause the normally demure Katharina to act out in unthinkable ways. SPOILER WARNING: Although I was skeptical when I realized that the directors Volker Schlondorff and Margarethe von Trotta had shot the film in a different sequence than the novel (we don't see Katharina murder journalist Werner Tötges until late in the movie) not only did they pull it off but it may have been the better choice for the film medium. Film critic Roger Ebert, who gave the film a rather mediocre review, claims that the murder doesn't "fit the film as a whole." When we see how the press has turned a woman, who friends jokingly referred to as "the nun", into a promiscuous whore and begin to see "the lost honor" from the first person perspective rather than the third person, the murder begins to makes sense. If we add the fact that Tötges is indirectly responsible for her mother's death and that Katharina has learned that the man she loves is looking at 8 to 10 years (as she would have probably recieved for such a crime in 1970s Germany) then the murder not only appears possible but even probable and fits the film quite well. The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum remains not just a great film but a very prescient one in the age of highly consolidated media and The Patriot Act.
September 17, 2014
Interesting film focused on the abuses of the press. While this is the primary idea of the film there are several aspects to the story that are equaling compelling. This film is dated and requires a basic understanding of terrorism in the 1970's, it is also vitally connected to the 21st Century. Angela Winkler gives an impressively nuanced performance. Her character feels real. There is no hint of mannerism or scenery-chewing which I suspect many actors would have been inclined to add.
March 17, 2011
If Volker Schlöndorff would have quit before the end, this would have been one of those perfect movies. It still resonates with a relevance undiminished by the last thirty-five years, and despite the flawed ending, I hope everyone watches it and thinks.
January 14, 2011
When Tabloids Attack
It happens occasionally; I must disagree with Roger. With several people, by the look of it. The fact is, I think the end of the movie has a certain mad inevitability. Yes, it's wish fulfillment of the darkest kind. How many of us dream of just getting even? And after all, it's almost certainly impossible for the legal recourse to work. We're told so several times. Freedom of the press, they say, extends to blatantly illegal actions and vicious libels. Or anyway probably does. It would be a costly legal battle which would bring all sorts of things back out of the closet--when they were only dragged out in the first place by the actions of the paper. Someone driven to the edge and possessed of that knowledge might well conclude that only one action will work, and at least it prevents getting pointed at in the streets for a while. So there's that.
One night, Katharina Blum (Angela Winkler) is at a party. She meets a handsome young man called Ludwig Götten (Jürgen Prochnow, whom I did not recognize). She falls deeply for him, and they spend the night at her place together. And the next morning, the police break down her doors and storm her apartment. It seems he is an anarchist and possibly a bank robber; what they tell her seems a little contradictory. Anyway, they take her in and investigate her in one of those lengthy sequences which makes me realize how little I know about German jurisprudence. Katharina doesn't have a lawyer, even though she works for one (Hubert Bloma, played by Heinz Bennent). What she does have is the mad and obsessive attentions of Werner Tötges (Dieter Laser), reporter for what is just called [i]The Paper[/i]. He slanders her. He sneaks into the ICU to interview her mother (I can't work out who), who is recovering from surgery. And then she doesn't. And that's just one thing which goes wrong for her because of it all.
I didn't watch the special features, but I am given to understand that it includes various of the people involved in the film declaring how relevant it still is. And heaven knows they're right. Less than twenty-five years later, it is arguably a fact that the mother of an heir to the British throne was killed by publicity. Not long at all after that, an agent for a presidential administration violated federal law by leaking certain information to the press and then had his prison sentence commuted almost as soon as the ink of the conviction was dry. (Let's not forget that officers in this story are leaking information to the unscrupulous reporter.) A free press is one of the safeguards of liberty, but there must also be safeguards for the people who appear in it. They say that they can't necessarily prosecute Tötges in the death of Maria Blum, because they can't prove his actions led to her death. It just feels as though there ought to be some recourse. It should certainly be true that any decent news outlet should be ashamed to hire someone who would use such awful tactics.
The political situation in Germany at the time was of course a complicated one. I shouldn't think there was any part of the twentieth century where it wasn't, really. One character, Konrad Beiters (Werner Eichhorn), refers to himself as a former Nazi. This may or may not be true, but it wouldn't surprise me. His lover and Katharina's aunt, Else Woltersheim (Regine Lutz), is an easy target for [i]The Paper[/i] because her father defected to the Soviet Union in '32 and then disappeared. Her father who was not married to her mother; I believe the mother is said to be living quite happily in the East. When the cops get a call from the capital, it is Bonn, not Berlin, because Berlin was the capital of the East. And at some point, we'll be getting to [i]The Baader Meinhof Complex[/i], which is also about the political complications of the era. This film's point is that political complications aren't the point. There's still a certain decency to other people. Things like courtesy should never fail to be politically expedient.
It's not an easy movie. I mean, for one, you have to have an interest in what looks like it ought to be a political thriller but is instead a scarred character piece. You must prepare to have some of your initial beliefs about Katharina proven wrong. Honestly, you must be willing to cope with the fact that you're never really going to know much about Ludwig other than that he's almost certainly guilty of something. Even if you find the ending valid, you're not really going to find it satisfying. It isn't. It's going to be clear pretty quickly that the cycle does not end with Katharina and with her actions. Then again, you knew that. You've seen it happen yourself. The last thing the movie tells us is in print. It says, "Characters and plot are purely fictitious. Similarities with journalistic practices of the newspaper "BILD" are neither intended nor coincidental, but inevitable." Obviously, [i]Bild[/i] is not responsible for what happens to the fictional Katharina. But similar tragedies do still occur, and while we lament them, neither press nor purchasers do anything to change things.
October 6, 2010
Grandious Grotueske about a Fascist Conspiration of Police, Attorney's Office and Media celebrates a Witch Hunt on Anarchists and their Helpers in 70's Colonge and turn a Harmless Girl who fell in Love with a Anarchist Bank Robber and help him to hide from the Authorities into a Murder
April 30, 2010
A really good movie about a woman who is wronfully accused of a crime and made into a terrible person by the media. Wonderful story and performance by the lead.