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Monday, February 17, 2014

The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum (1975) d. Volker Schlöndorff and Margarethe von Trotta

Volker Schlöndorff

The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum (1975)
d. Volker Schlöndorff and Margarethe von Trotta
Criterion Collection #177

  I guess I haven't mentioned many of the German Criterion Collection films by Wim Wenders and Werner Herzog because I've seen them all.  Werner Herzog especially-  Many of the recent films in the theaters.  Soooo.... Scholndorff, who has seven films in the Criterion Collection, is like the most famous German director who's films I've seen or heard mentioned by anyone at any time in my entire life.
        Both Katharina Blum and Young Torless, the other Schlondorff film I've seen, are versions of literary novels. Schlondorff is pretty on the record about not wanting to write movies, and his choices of source material within the German world certainly limited his appeal in the English speaking film markets.
         Katharina Blum is a young divorcee in 70s Germany who has the misfortune of falling in love with a terrorist/army deserter.  She is hounded by the press after her arrest on suspicion of aiding a terrorist. The "shocking" ending involves her murdering the reporter responsible for tarnishing her name AND the fact that she is, actually, a communist sympathizer.  At least that is how I read The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum.  The psycho sexual nature of the abuse she suffers at the hands of the "system" is a point of emphasis in the film: the obscene phone calls and greeting cards she received are harped upon, repeatedly.
          That sexual element is a kind of thematic link to the subject of "internet fame"- the tabloid culture that is the primary target of this movie.  Like then, is now, unwanted attention from the media can have a very rapey element, and Katharina Blum is a kind of rape at the hands of strangers parable, compete with a revenge fantasy tacked on at the end.

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