Die Verlorene Ehre der Katharina Blum oder: Wie Gewalt entstehen und wohin sie führen kann (The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum) Reviews
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.