Lili Marleen (1981)


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Movie Info

Inspired a song that was extremely popular with the German soldiers during WW II, this fictional story begins in 1938 while Wilkie Bunterberg (Hanna Schygulla), a third-tier cabaret singer, performs in a Zurich nightclub. It is her boyfriend, a Swiss Jew who also turns out to be a resistance fighter who pens her the famous song Lili Marleen. She sings it in Germany and it becomes a hit with the German troops. As a result, Hitler himself invites her to perform for him. This does not set well with the songwriter's powerful who, upon learning that Marleen has become a famed singer in Germany, seek to have her barred from Switzerland. This does not stop the songwriter from loving her though and desperate to see her one last time, he sneaks into Berlin for a tryst. Unfortuantely he is arrested and she gets blacklisted. They do not see each other again until after the war. By this time, their lives have changed considerably. This is not considered among the best of Fassbinder's best films. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi


Critic Reviews for Lili Marleen

All Critics (10) | Top Critics (7)

Fassbinder's energy and imagination, in tandem creating strong, visceral images, justify and vindicate his excesses. He is, simply, one of very few directors in the world today who seems to be pouring everything he has into his medium.

Apr 26, 2018 | Full Review…

Fassbinder repeatedly depicts the song comforting lonely soldiers and then accompanying scenes of carnage. The devastating effect boomerangs.

Aug 4, 2015 | Full Review…

Fassbinder at half speed is still good, but this film... is still a disappointment.

Aug 3, 2015 | Full Review…

What is new for a Fassbinder work is that the film is far more entertaining to watch than it is interesting to speculate about. That means it's a disappointment.

Sep 18, 2006 | Rating: 2/5

The meanings are banal and the pace is heavy, but Fassbinder's use of color -- as throughout his late period -- is superb.

Jun 3, 2006 | Full Review…

Elaborate proof that the devil really does have all the best tunes.

Jun 3, 2006 | Full Review…
Time Out
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Lili Marleen

One may wonder why Fassbinder decided to indulge himself in an unimpressive, seemingly underdeveloped Hollywood-like movie made only for entertainment, and it loses its way in the last act to the point of even including a completely pointless self-reference.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

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