Archive for the ‘German Cinema’ Category

Among the works of Max Ophuls, this film based upon a short story by Arthur Schnitzler stands out as a mature work where his grasp of the story telling and a particular style that we associate with him converge. This is his first milestone and fifth feature film.
Ophuls treats love straightforward and in Liebelei where adultery is not taken casually but with gravity such liaisons that entail between parties of unequal standing. Yet the pull of love the baroness and a junior lieutenant cannot dismiss for the thrill of it. Their expectations from it also seem unequal. As often the case is the woman in such exigencies can demand and get what she desires. The lieutenant thus gives in to a fatal error of giving the key to his lodging house that he shares with his buddy who is oberlieutenant (one rank above). Love and friendship are not stretched to test the credulity of the viewer in order to keep the story move headlong. While the buddies pursue their love, life seems to move away from their social milieu. It is romantic love that people lonely streets, empty cafes, dreamed landscapes where love must grow as naturally as intended. But the past makes its thrust like an assassins stiletto when least expected and it makes this film a poignant essay on love.
The film begins with staging of Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio where the heroine is restrained by the Pasha Selim’s harem. The story that unfolds before our eyes is the young lieutenant who is abducted by fate for his past indiscretion. We cannot but feel the malignant gaze of Baron von Eggersdorff from the upper stall fixed on Lieutenant Fritz Lobheimer who is seated below. Even as the young man leaves for his assignment before the third act commences we know he is not far from the thoughts of the suspicious husband. The baron wants to surprise his wife and when he arrives we know it is a matter of time their stolen kisses would leave its shadow on the lovers.
Contrasting the gloom of the baronial mansion that envelops the lover making a getaway we see him with Christine, the daughter of a musician, his new found love and they ride through a romantic landscape. The lieutenant means when he pledges eternal love against the backdrop of fresh snow glittering in the light. He promises to meet her every day except Saturdays where he is obliged to meet Baron and his wife. He is related to the baron and hence the liaison is much more damning for the class that stood for honor and good manners.
The duel between the baron and the lieutenant is crucial to the resolution of the story. A similar duel is treated in Ophul’s later film The earrings of Madame de… which is his crowning achievement as a film maker.
François Truffaut on Ophuls: in a moving obituary for Ophuls, wrote: “He was not the virtuoso or the aesthete or the decorative filmmaker he has been called. He didn’t make ten or eleven shots with a single sweep of the camera merely to ‘look good’ . . . Like his friend Jean Renoir, Ophuls always sacrificed technique to the actor. Ophuls thought actors were at their best and least theatrical when forced to some physical effort—climbing stairs, running through the countryside, or dancing throughout a long single take.”

* Magda Schneider as Christine Weyring
* Wolfgang Liebeneiner as Lieutenant Fritz Lobheimer
* Luise Ulrich as Mitzi Schlager
* Carl Esmond as Lieutenant Theo Kaiser
* Olga Tschechowa as Baronin von Eggersdorff
* Gustaf Gründgens as Baron von Eggersdorff
* Paul Hörbiger as Old Weyring, Christine’s father
Ophüls later remade the film in France as Une histoire d’amour, using most of the original cast.
Magda Schneider’s daughter, Romy Schneider, played the same role in the 1958 film Christine.

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I advise this film for whoever may have lofty ideals of redeeming nature of love. Love must run the gauntlet of fate. The fate of Thousand Reich ended in a division and every German’s desire for unification  must end in anti-climax and bitterness of economic disparity.  We have seen it happen.  Love of Maria Braun undergoes such ups and down only to end in a manner that no one may foretell.

Studios in  Hollywood made love, MGM in particular,  a surefire formula for success. Rainer Werner Fasbinder takes love and sets it as molotov cocktail of emotions that redeems nothing and delivers nothing. The eponymous heroine has love in her heart and her troubles stem from it. He husband is missing after the war and she has to accept her love-child  was better dead than alive. Love works at several layers as metaphor for Germany of Goethe and of Konrad Adeneaur.

In the madness that Germany has become romantic idealism of Goethe can only bring tragedy. For the post-war Germany of Adenauer, the sorrows of young Werner are of no use. It is a kind of fascism that forces each to fall in for making a fast buck or be thrown aside. Werther in Adenauer time would belike Bronkovsky, running an illegal joint for GI’s and Americans can be entertained. No Germans are allowed but Maria Braun can find company there. Adenauer on the other hand can go back cynically on his avowed purpose and yet sound politically correct. (We hear  him first time categorically rejectingthe idea of  forming a German army and second to the contrary.)  Love as an ideal has, in the Reconstruction period become soiled through and through. Psyche of Germany is wounded and Maria is like many other widows bearing search boards and hopes their missing husbands may return. Love for her is spiritual and all encompassing.

There is a subtext of Maria’s family.What happens to Betti her best friend and sister and her mother are counterpoint to her own life. Her  mother is also a war widow and has love in her heart. It is she who points out it was not fair that love could hold such power over one. ‘ One may live on potatoes and if it is in short supply one can subsist on turnips or gruel. But love is such no subtitute for it will do’. It hurts like hell when the winter is biting and fuel is hard to come by.

Maria’s bittersweet  threnody on love is in her intelligence and power to make changes about her, are unrealized as long as she is focused on her husband who is missing . She lives  her mothers  fears,  her tears and tells her lies. ‘Her mother of course leaves the thinking to her’. Such love has only denied Maria Braun her dreams. When one is busy thinking to forage enough firewood or food, she has no chance for  dreams.

Despite of such impoverishment she is on a spiritual high that gives her power to walk the streets for her husband and to keep hold on reality. It is touching to see her unflinching conviction her husband Hermann  shall return. Her sister Betti’s husband Willi does return. She cannot be persuaded otherwise even in  the bad  news  he has heard. No he is alive and shall return, Maria knows in her guts.

Yes Hermann   Braun does come back only to be taken away from her. It bears a political parallel in the way Germany was torn asunder.Maria soon shows her hard head . Naturally she becomes the head of a company and the cynical bookkeeper(The trouble with Herr. Senkenburg is that he cannot take a holiday from hiself. Hence is stiff and colorless.  Even he is impressed. Maria shows her  conrol in sizing up the two men in her workplace and bring him on her side. He who kept the firm going while the Chief went  to pieces during the Naz regime took control of the comany. He is thorough and persistent and a  hard nosed book keeper. he typifys German spirit for order. He knows she is a force to look up to.

Dr. Klaus Oswald the textile magnate is smitten withMaria and offers marriage but she holds on to her secret and her head. She sleeps cynically with him so she shall have upper hand.  She explains mysteriously the reason how the company could turn around its fortunes:  she is the Mata Hari of economic success. She keeps company with Captialist by day and spends her night with proletariate.

The West t Germany rose from the ashes  as she rose to possess her own country house and material prosperity while her family like Easten Germany lives still amidst the rubble. All that material wealth she wants to lay at the feet of her Hermann who is still in the prison. His love for her is as great as Oswald who puts up willingly with  her erratic temperament. She has her  secret to which her lover and boss cannot penetrate. Unknown to her he has his secrets, both of which mesh together to explode  finally.

Hanna Schygulla was unforgettable portraying her complex character without being erratic; she was a trollop when it required without being meretricious. Whether seductive or as sober company executive she was all woman, intelligent as well as vulnerable.

The film is densely layered and Fassbinder’s pet peeve of everyday fascism that the new Dispensation espoused under an economic recovery program,  is evident.

Fassbinder had a commercial success, a landmark film in German films by treating love as political diatribe. Yes he hit the mark in terms of technical excellence and box-office takings. Nevertheless a molotov cocktail in the hands of a genius.


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In a film where the eponymous heroine holds with her ‘feel good’ doctor the following  dialogue :
Veronica Voss: You’ve given me a great deal of happiness.
Dr. Marianne Katz: I sold it to you.

one may be sure the film is going to be as dark as the soul of  the dopefiend or of her ‘fixer.’ ”Veronika Voss,”is the  second-to-last film of Rainer Werner Fassbinder. It is a chilly, tough, wicked satire set in Munich some 10 years after the collapse of the Nazi Germany.  Fassbinder’s movies like ”The Marriage of Maria Braun” and ”Lola” deal with the economic miracle of Post-war Germany. The American ideal of ‘pursuit of happiness’ is imported as Hershey bar is, and practiced in the city in no holds barred struggle.  Veronika Voss is one victim. We see  beneath the façade of prosperity  wounded creatures like Veronika Voss and Lola.   Both are pawns. Lola the singer is the pawn of a corrupt contractor who has all the powers- that- be in his pocket except the idealistic  but wet- behind- the- ears- goodness of the new City planner.  Progress for the Slum Lord is in that he can spread his money around. The politicians and pillars of the society also see it that way. So Lola is there to corrupt the idealism that doesn’t bring money to him in the way he wants it. He well knows the honest city planner shall be on his way, so Lola must entrap him. Whereas  Veronika has the misfortune to fall in the clutches of  an evil doctor. She peddles pleasure as indicated in the dialogue quoted above. Veronicka Voss  (Rosel Zech), a once-popular German movie actress who is rumored to have been a close friend of Goebbels has not the staying power of a filmstar like Betty Davis or Joan Crawford. She is blond and something like a Harlowt (with t silent); and as far as her acting goes she is the type who cannot possibly survive, without some help like Goebbels. It was before the war.

In the Post War Germany an economic miracle is blowing across Germany and for her help comes in the form Dr. Marianne Katz.
When we first see Veronika Voss she is in a Munich theater watching her former self in an old movie, one in which she is surrendering to an evil woman doctor in return for drugs to support her habit. ‘As life sometimes imitates terrible movies, the story of Veronika Voss becomes much like the plot of one of her films’(quote: NY Times review-By VINCENT CANBY
Published: September 24, 1982
While walking through a park, a chance rain drives Veronika Voss to the friendly Robert Krohn (Hilmar Thate), a sports reporter. He gallantly offers her protection at least for now from getting wet. He is one of the few people in Munich who doesn’t remember her face or her name. Intrigued Veronika telephones Robert a couple of days later and asks him to meet her for tea.
At the restaurant, Veronika charms Robert as well as baffles him. As lighting in a restaurant  she gives a hint of her ambience derived from her ‘dark self.’ As if to prove the point she says ”I like to seduce helpless men,” and then borrows 300 marks from him to buy a brooch. She also proves her amoral side by whisking him off right in front of his live- in photographer who shall dearly pay for loving him unreservedly.
Veronika takes him to her country house where they make  love and she reaches a kind of orgasm, given the clue of Fassbinder’s sexual predilections an anticlimax, she reveals her dark self.  She is a morphine addict.
The rest soon falls apart from romance of an ageing coquette with a naïve sportswriter into the dark realms of mystery. There isn’t much of mysterywhen the has been actress doesn’t want to be rescued from’ her pursuit of happiness.’ The music and crisp black and white photography adds to the acidulous touch of Fassbinder. Since I had touched upon his Lola earlier I shall merely add ‘Lola’ is in color, and its psychadelic color palette still makes it black in its overall emotional intensity. I close this appreciation with a touch of regret that his genius was cut down in the middle of its full flowering.
Trivia: The film is loosely based on the career of actress Sybillie Schmitz. It is reportedly influenced by Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard.
Fassbinder has a bit part in the beginning of the film sitting behind Voss in a movie theatre and watching her old movie. Lilo Pempeit (also Liselotte Eder) who plays the manager of a jewelry store was Fassbinder’s mother. Günther Kaufmann for whom Fassbinder earlier had an unrequited infatuation, plays in all three films of the cycle. In this one he is an enigmatic African-American G.I. Juliane Lorenz, seen in the brief role of a secretary, was a close associate of Fassbinder and the editor of this film.(Ack: wikipedia, NY Times Review)
VERONIKA VOSS, directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder; screenplay (German with English subtitles) by Peter Marthesheimer and Pea Frohlich; director of photography, Xaver Schwarzenberger; edited by Juliane Lorenz; music by Peer Raben; produced by Thomas Schuhly; a production of Laura-Film/Tango Film in co-production with Rialto-Film/Trio- Film/Maran Film; Running time: 105 minutes. This film is rated R. 

Veronika Voss . . . . . Rosel Zech 
Robert Krohn . . . . . Hilmar Thate 
Henriette . . . . . Cornelia Froboess 
Dr. Katz . . . . . Annemarie Duringer 
Josefa . . . . . Doris Schade 
Dr. Edel . . . . . Eric Schumann 
Film Producer-Fat Man . . . . . Peter Berling 
G.I.-Dealer . . . . . Gunther Kaufmann 
Saleswoman . . . . . Sonja Neudorfer 
Her Boss . . . . . Lilo Pempeit


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Metropolis is a science fiction film based on a screenplay written in 1924 by Fritz Lang and his then wife, Thea von Harbou. She made it into a novel in 1926. This work by Fritz Lang was produced in Germany in the Babelsberg Studios at a time before the economic and political chaos could engulf the Weimar Republic. It was the most expensive silent film of the time, costing approximately 7 million Reichsmark (equivalent to around $28 million USD in 2007).

The film is set in a future and a corporate city-state, the metropolis is the stage for examing an idea that was hot in the 20’s: the social crisis between workers and owners in capitalism. The film had a checkered history, the original and longest version was briefly screened in Germany in 1927 of which a quarter of the footage was believed to be permanently lost. But later this portion resurfaced in a film museum in Argentina! There is an American version, which is a fraction of the original and it is what often referred to and discussed.


The film is set in the year 2026, and the city state, the metropolis of the title is run by Johann ‘Joh’ Fredersen (Alfred Abel).
Society has been divided into two rigid groups: one of planners or thinkers, who live high above the earth in luxury, and another of workers who live underground toiling to sustain the lives of the privileged.
The beautiful but a firebrand for the workers, Maria (Brigitte Helm) advises the desperate workers not to start a revolution, and instead wait for the arrival of “The Mediator”, who, she says, will unite the two halves of society. Meanwhile the son of Fredersen, Freder (Gustav Fröhlich), becomes infatuated with Maria, and follows her down into the working underworld and realizes firsthand the situation. ( After an explosion at the “M-Machine”, the employers are more concerned with keeping the machine than attending to the safety of the wounded. They bring in replacements.) Disgusted Freder joins her cause.

While the love is nascent in such lower depths above it is business as usual. Johann has  a rival in Rotwang (Rudolf Klein-Rogge). Rotwang has built a robotic gynoid. Rotwang wants to give the robot the appearance of Hel but Johann requests him to give the robot the appearance of Maria instead. His aim is to hold his control over the workers using Maria as a robot while Rotwang who lost his sweetheart to Johann knowsshe died giving birth to Freder. He has his own plans to separate Maria from Johann. So he consents to the request of Johann.
After unleashing the real and the robot things really hot up in Metropolis.
The robot is passed for an exotic dancer and she proves to be a  a hit with the well heeled Yoshiwara crowd. Meanwhile the real Maria is held a prisoner at the castle of Rotwang. The robot descents to the underworld and create confusion: workers mistake Maria as the cause for the havoc set off by robot Maria in the wake of destruction of “Heart Machine”, the power station of the city. Nor they can understand it was the real Maria and Federer who saved them in a heroic rescue.

When the workers realize the damage the uppercrust have done and that their children are lost, they under the leadership of Grot, the foreman go up to seek revenge. They chase the human Maria, whom they hold responsible for their loss. As they break into the city’s entertainment district, they run into and capture the robot Maria, while the human Maria manages to escape. The workers burn the captured Maria at the stake; Freder, believing this to be the human Maria, despairs but then he and the workers realize that the burned Maria is in fact a robot.

Meanwhile, the human Maria is chased by Rotwang along the battlements of the city’s cathedral. Freder chases after Rotwang, resulting in a climactic scene in which Joh Fredersen watches in terror as his son struggles with Rotwang on the cathedral’s roof. Rotwang falls to his death, and Maria and Freder return to the street, where Freder unites Fredersen (the “head”) and Grot (the “hands”), fulfilling his role as the “Mediator” (the “heart”).


* Alfred Abel as Joh Fredersen
* Gustav Fröhlich as Freder, Joh Fredersen’s son
* Rudolf Klein-Rogge as Rotwang
* Fritz Rasp as the Thin Man
* Theodor Loos as Josaphat
* Erwin Biswanger as Worker 11811 / Georgi
* Heinrich George as Grot, Foreman of the Heart Machine
* Brigitte Helm as Maria/robot
Architecture and visual effects was a novelty then and the set design still impress modern audiences with their visual impact—the film contains cinematic and thematic links to German Expressionism, is based on contemporary Modernism and Art Deco.  It stands as an emblem associated with the ruling class in the film.

Rotwang’s Art Deco laboratory with its lights and industrial machinery similary add to the cult status of the film. In science fiction, this style is sometimes called Raygun Gothic.

The effects expert, Eugen Schüfftan, created innovative visual displays widely acclaimed in following years. Among the effects used are miniatures of the city, a camera on a swing, and most notably, the so-called Schüfftan process, later used by Alfred Hitchcock in his film Blackmail (1929).

The Maschinenmensch, the robot character played by Brigitte Helm, was created by Walter Schultze-Mittendorf. A chance discovery of a sample of “plastic wood” (a pliable substance designed as wood-filler) allowed him to sculpt the costume like a suit of armour over a plaster cast of the actress. Spraypainted a mix of silver and bronze, it helped create some of the most memorable moments on film.
Dualism is a running theme. Maria as the worker’s guiding spirit while she is replicated as a robot to undo her effect on workers who themselves show dichotomy of workers conscious of the disparity between the classes and who toil as automata (the viwer cannot see their faces, and they work and move as rhythmically as the machines they operate.) Rotwang, the ‘mad scientist’ is another whose mad genius and hatred is in context of Johann whose selfishness is however tempered by his fatherly concern.
The film has drawn heavily from the story of the Tower of Babel (from the book of Genesis). One may envision a grandiose monument to the greatness of humanity but would need labor of millions whose requirements are different from those who think up the skyscrapers high enough to reach the stars. The camera focuses on armies of workers led to the construction site of the monument. They work hard but cannot understand the dreams of the Tower’s designers, and the designers don’t concern themselves with the mind of their workers. As the film explains, “The dreams of a few had turned to the curses of many”.
Irony of the class war jells with the tragedy of the Biblical  Tower: the planners and the workers spoke the same language but didn’t understand each other. As the scene ends and the camera show us that only ruins remain of the Tower of Babel. This retelling is notable in keeping the theme of the lack of communication from the original story but placing it in the context of relations between social classes.

The entire film is dominated by technology: much of the technology portrayed in the film is unexplained and appears bizarre, for example the enormous “M-Machine” and the “Heart Machine.” Lang obviously could only work with technology of the 20’s and much of it to our sophisticated level seem mere curiosities of an outmoded era.’ The ultimate expression of technology in the entire film is the female robot built by Rotwang, referred to as the Maschinenmensch (“Machine Human” or “Machine Man”). In the original German version Rotwang’s creation is a reconstruction of his dead lover, a woman called Hel…’(wikipedia)
Lang, in his later years did claim his visit to New York in 1924 inspired Metropolis.

On January 10, 1927, a 210 minute version of the film premiered in Berlin with moderate success…After sound films came in in late 1927, theatre managers saw to it that the film was shown using a sound film projector at the standard sound film speed of up to 26 frames per second (as at its Berlin premiere). This affected the rhythm and pace of the original film, which had been made to be shown at the standard silent film speed of 16 frames per second…
American and foreign theatre managers were generally unwilling to allow more than ninety minutes to a feature in their program Few people outside of Berlin saw Metropolis as Fritz Lang originally intended. In the United States, the movie was shown in a version edited by the American playwright Channing Pollock, who almost completely obscured the original plot.’-wikipedia

Despite the film’s later reputation, some contemporary critics panned it. The New York Times critic Mourdant Hall called it a “technical marvel with feet of clay”. H. G. Wells thought it was foolish to think that automation created drudgery rather than relieving it, and found parts of the story derivative of Shelley’s Frankenstein, Karel Čapek’s robot stories, and his own The Sleeper Awakes.

Joseph Goebbels was impressed however and clearly took the film’s message to heart. In a speech of 1928 he noted: “The political bourgeoisie is about to leave the stage of history. In its place advance the oppressed producers of the head and hand, the forces of Labour, to begin their historical mission”.

Fritz Lang himself expressed dissatisfaction with the film. Lang’s distaste for his own film perhaps stemmed from personal reasons. While his wife embraced the cause of Nazism passionately (Von Harbou became a passionate member of the Nazi Party in 1933) he fled from Germany and he and his wife were divorced in 1934.

Restorations and re-releases

Enno Patalas made an exhaustive attempt to restore the movie in 1986. This restoration was the most accurate for its time, thanks to the script and the musical score that had been discovered. The basis of Patalas’ work was a copy in the Museum of Modern Art’s collection.
The F.W. Murnau Foundation (which now owns the film’s copyright) and Kino International (now the film’s domestic distributor) released a 118-minute, digitally restored version in 2002, undertaken by Martin Koerber. It included the original music score and title cards describing the action in the missing sequences.

The music was composed by Gottfried Huppertz who had composed the original scores for Lang’s Die Nibelungen films in 1924. As for this film, Huppertz composed a leitmotific orchestral score which included many elements from the music of Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss plus some additional score for the city of the workers and the use of the popular Dies Irae for some apocalyptic imagery. His music played a quite prominent role while shooting the picture, since during principal photography, many scenes were accompanied by him playing the piano to get a certain effect from the actors.

Cultural influences
Shots from the film are extensively featured in the video for Queen (band)’s 1984 song Radio Ga Ga.

The visual design for Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner was influenced by Metropolis. These include a built up urban environment, in which the wealthy literally live above the workers, dominated by a huge building. Compare the New Tower of Babel in Metropolis with the Tyrell Building in Blade Runner.

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Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes to the Germans, is an independent 1972 German film written and directed by Werner Herzog. Klaus Kinski stars in the title role. The soundtrack was composed and performed by German progressive/Krautrock band Popol Vuh. The fame of Aguirre has continued to grow since its release. Its visual style and narrative elements had a strong influence on Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 film Apocalypse Now.
Several critics have declared the film a masterpiece.
Aguirre belongs to the genre of adventure but more closer in spirit to Greed than to Kurasowa’s Seven Samurai.

Plot Synopsis
Framed The 1650-51 expedition of Spanish conquistador Gonzalo Pizarro (Alejandro Repulles) comes stuck in the thick, impenetrable jungles of Peru. As a last-ditch effort to locate treasure, Pizarro orders a party to scout ahead for signs of El Dorado, the fabled seven cities of gold. In command are a trio of nobles, Pedro de Ursua (Ruy Guerra), Fernando de Guzman (Peter Berling), and Lope de Aguirre (Kinski). Traveling by river raft, the explorers are besieged by hostile natives, disease, starvation and treacherous waters. Crazed with greed and mad with power, Aguirre takes over the enterprise, slaughtering any that oppose him. If Greed had Death valley and thirst to drive the last nail on the greed of McTague and Marcus, in Aguirre we have Nature and Aguirre’s own nature: his unquenchable thirst for glory. Using a minimalist story and dialogue, the film creates a vision of madness and folly, played out in the heart of a lush but unforgiving Amazonian jungle.

Don Lope de Aguirre: I, the wrath of God, will marry my own daughter and with her I’ll found the purest dynasty the earth has ever seen. Who but a madman will speak this while we see him in charge of nothing but a raft of corpses and chattering monkeys.
(ack: Karl Williams-all movie)
Herzog’s films are personal in his manner of myth making: use of a striking imagery which connects at different points in the film gives his visual narrative certain unity. For example the valley in Crete with its hundreds of rotating windmills in Signs of Life (1967) or the camera tracking the lonely Aguirre on his raft in the backwaters of the Amazon jungle. That brings me to his landscape which becomes a kind of reference point, a moral coda to the inner workings of man as in Aguirre. Landscape and the mindscape are brought together and the ethereal score of Popol Vuh sustains the mood.

Memorable quotes
Don Lope de Aguirre: That man is a head taller than me. That may change.
Don Lope de Aguirre: Perucho, don’t you think the cannon might be a little bit rusty?
Perucho: It might.
Don Lope de Aguirre: I am the great traitor. There must be no other. Anyone who even thinks about deserting this mission will be cut up into 198 pieces. Those pieces will be stamped on until what is left can be used only to paint walls. Whoever takes one grain of corn or one drop of water… more than his ration, will be locked up for 155 years. If I, Aguirre, want the birds to drop dead from the trees… then the birds will drop dead from the trees. I am the wrath of god. The earth I pass will see me and tremble. But whoever follows me and the river, will win untold riches. But whoever deserts…
[last lines]
Don Lope de Aguirre: I am the wrath of God. Who else is with me?
Don Lope de Aguirre: I am the wrath of God.
Okello: [Hallucinating] That is no ship. That is no forest.
[Arrow hits him]
Okello: That is no arrow. We just imagine the arrows because we fear them.

Directed by     Werner Herzog
Produced by     Werner Herzog
Hans Prescher
Written by     Werner Herzog
Music by     Popol Vuh
Cinematography     Thomas Mauch
Editing by     Beate Mainka-Jellinghaus
Release date(s)     December 29, 1972
Running time     100 min
Country     West Germany
Language     English/German
Budget     US$370,000
Similar Movies
Fitzcarraldo  (1982, Werner Herzog)
Apocalypse Now  (1979, Francis Ford Coppola)
The Mosquito Coast  (1986, Peter Weir)
El Dorado  (1988, Carlos Saura)
Cobra Verde  (1988, Werner Herzog)
The Wild Bunch: An Album in Montage  (1996, Paul Seydor)
Apocalypse Now Redux  (2001, Francis Ford Coppola)
Last of the Dogmen  (1995, Tab Murphy)
1492: Conquest of Paradise  (1992, Ridley Scott)
The Desert Within  (2008, Rodrigo Plá)
Movies with the Same Personnel
Fitzcarraldo  (1982, Werner Herzog)
The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser  (1975, Werner Herzog)
Wo Die Grünen Ameisen Träumen  (1984, Werner Herzog)
Signs of Life  (1968, Werner Herzog)
Burden of Dreams  (1982, Les Blank)
Woyzeck  (1978, Werner Herzog)
Stroszek  (1977, Werner Herzog)
Heart of Glass  (1976, Werner Herzog)
Other Related Movies
is related to:      Woyzeck  (1978, Werner Herzog)
My Best Fiend  (1999, Werner Herzog)
Reverse Shot: Rebellion of the Filmmakers  (2007, Laurens Straub, Dominik Wessely)
Q’ero: In Search of the Last Incas  (1993, Zadoc Nava)
*  Although the opening titles claim the film was based on “the diary of the monk Gaspar de Carvajal”, director Werner Herzog has stated that there is no historical basis for the story and that the monk’s diary was invented to lend it more credence. However, a diary of Carvajal does in fact exist, but Carvajal was not part of any expedition with Aguirre, but rather part of one 20 years earlier to the interior.

* Near the end of the shooting, Werner Herzog thought he had lost all the negatives that the film was shot on. He later discovered that the shipping agency at the Lima airport had completed all paperwork that accompanied the transportation of the film cans, but had not actually shipped them. The cans were thought lost for several weeks before the oversight was revealed.

* Many of the scenes depicted in the film were unrehearsed and unstaged. Herzog did not storyboard a single frame of the film. All of it was shot and framed spontaneously.

* Werner Herzog claims to have written the screenplay in two and a half days.
* During one scene set in a native village, Klaus Kinski hits one of the crewmen over the head with his sword. The blow nearly killed the man, and only his helmet saved his life.

* Klaus Kinski claimed at one time that while filming the final scene, he was actually bitten by some of the monkeys.

* Ranked #46 on Entertainment Weekly’s “Top 50 Cult Films of All-Time”

* This was the first Werner Herzog film with Klaus Kinski. It was the start of an extremely stormy, and sometimes violent, professional relationship that lasted 15 years,

* The complete crew comprised only eight people.


* Klaus Kinski …. Lope de Aguirre
* Helena Rojo …. Inez de Atienza
* Ruy Guerra …. Don Pedro de Ursúa
* Del Negro …. Brother Gaspar de Carvajal
* Peter Berling …. Don Fernando de Guzman
* Cecilia Rivera …. Florés de Aguirre
* Daniel Ades …. Perucho
* Edward Roland …. Okello
* Armando Polanah …. Armando
* Alejandro Repullés …. Gonzalo Pizarro
* Justo González …. González
(ack:all movie,imdb.wikipedia, Ingo Petzke)

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The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (German: Die Bitteren Tränen der Petra von Kant) is a 1972 German film directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, based on his own play. It is the 13th of the 33 films he made in his short life. He explores the changing dynamics of love of a successful fashion designer who is a lesbian. Whether straight or gay, the dynamics of love are very much the same. Love has its object and expectations to which both parties must conform. Love, as a comic observed, is a give and take under all circumstances, only watch out the masochist who took all the time,  doesn’t switch roles on you. The film is a case in point.
In relationships the trouble occurs when power wants to get into the act and it is a complication. Power calls the shots and may not know when to stop as in the case of our eponymous heroine. Petra Von Kant (Margit Carstensen) tried straight sex and her both marriages were failure. The first was a great love and the second soon petered out in disgust and she divorced him.  Petra then begins an affair with her assistant. She shows her sadistic side to her in making codependent relationships. Through a friend Petra meets Karin, a desirable, ruthless 23-year-old girl whom she wants to subjugate. Petra persuades Karin to become a model and quickly falls madly in love with her. But Petra’s obsessive love is thwarted and Karin leaves Petra. Petra turns now to her assistant and would rekindle her desires once again. But the assistant, who has had satisfied her personal masochistic desire in submitting to Petra, leaves her, too.
Petra because of her position had the advantage and lets that guide her choices. It is an insidious poison chalice that must bring about unexpected results.  It is a witty tragedy of lovesickness and one of Fassbinder’s most powerful plays and films.
This film has an all female cast and is set in the home of the protagonist, Petra von Kant. This tale of intermingled love and hate is directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, and It explores the universal dynamics present in close human relationships, even lesbian ones.


* Margit Carstensen as Petra von Kant
* Hanna Schygulla as Karin Thimm
* Katrin Schaake as Sidonie von Grasenabb
* Eva Mattes as Gabriele von Kant
* Gisela Fackeldey as Valerie von Kant
* Irm Hermann as Marlene
Directed by     Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Produced by     Michael Fengler
(Filmverlag der Autoren)
Written by     Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Cinematography     Michael Ballhaus
Editing by     Thea Eymèsz
Distributed by     New Yorker Films (USA)
Release date(s)     Flag of Germany June 25, 1972
Flag of the United States October 12, 1973
Running time     124 min.
Country     Germany
Language     German
Budget     DEM 325,000 (estimated)- wikipedia

Similar Movies
Personal Best  (1982, Robert Towne)
High Art  (1998, Lisa Cholodenko)
Female Perversions  (1996, Susan Streitfeld)
Lianna  (1983, John Sayles)
Go Fish  (1994, Rose Troche)
Io Sono Mia  (1978)
Claire of the Moon  (1992, Nicole Conn)
The Girl  (2000, Sandee Zeig)
Dani and Alice  (2005, Roberta Marie Munroe)
Johnny Greyeyes  (2001)
Movies with the Same Personnel
Effi Briest  (1974, Rainer Werner Fassbinder)
Fox and His Friends  (1975, Rainer Werner Fassbinder)
The Marriage of Maria Braun  (1979, Rainer Werner Fassbinder)
Ali: Fear Eats the Soul  (1974, Rainer Werner Fassbinder)
Querelle  (1982, Rainer Werner Fassbinder)
Chinese Roulette  (1976, Rainer Werner Fassbinder)
The Merchant of Four Seasons  (1971, Rainer Werner Fassbinder)
Wildwechsel  (1972, Rainer Werner Fassbinder)
Other Related Movies
has been remade as:      The Politics of Fur  (2002, Laura Nix)
Memorable Quotes:
Petra von Kant: It’s easy to pity, Sidonie, but so much harder to understand. If you understand someone, don’t pity them, change them. Only pity what you cant understand.
Petra von Kant: Of course he took me seriously, respected my opinions… but nevertheless, he wanted to be the breadwinner. That way, oppression lies, that’s obvious. It’s like this, ‘I hear what you’re saying and of course I understand, but who brings home the bacon?’ So there you are, two sets of rules!
Petra von Kant: … he hit a bad patch. At first it was almost funny seeing his ridiculous pride being hurt, and to be honest, I quite enjoyed it.
Petra von Kant: He stank like a man. The way men stink. What had once had its charms now turned my stomach and brought tears to my eyes.
Petra von Kant: I felt nothing for him anymore. Far from it, it got worse. When we ate together his chewing… it was like an explosion. When he swallowed my gorge rose. The way he cut meat, held his cigarette, his whiskey glass… it all seemed so absurd, so affected. I was ashamed for him because I imagined everyone must see him as I did. Of course, it was hysteria. Panic, Sidonie. There was nothing left to save. The end.
Petra von Kant: I think people need each other, they’re made that way. But they haven’t learnt how to live together.
Petra von Kant: Talented? She’s not talented, she just knows how to sell herself.
Petra von Kant: It’s a waste of time being nice to servants.
Sidonie: It’s Karins fault.
Valerie von Kant: Karin? What’s it to do with Karin?
Sidonie: Everyone knows Petra’s mad about her.
Petra von Kant: Mad? I’m not mad, Sidonie. I love her! Love her as I’ve never loved anything in my life… that girl’s little finger is worth more than the lot of you.
Valerie von Kant: My daughter loves a girl. How strange. A girl! My daughter.
Film was shot in ten days.

(Ack: allmovie- by Clarke Fountain,wikipedia,imdb)


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(German: Die Büchse der Pandora)

The title is a reference to Pandora of Greek mythology, who upon opening a box given to her by the gods released all evils into the world, leaving only hope behind. The lead role is played by Lousie Brooks as Lulu. She is a young and impulsive vaudeville performer whose raw sexuality and uninhibited nature bring about the downfall of almost everyone she meets. Indeed her asset is her body which, to use a metaphor, was like the box. She only needed to open it, and as we see in this silent film, what havoc it could wreak on men as well as women of certain attitude. Incidentally in Countess Anna we have the cinema’s first lesbian character.
Pandora’s Box is a German silent melodrama based loosely on Frank Wedekind’s plays Erdgeist (Earth Spirit, 1895) and Die Büchse der Pandora (1904). Wedekind’s plays in his time were controversial to say the least. Satire was a weapon more like a red rag to be shaken at the middle-class morality and the solid citizenry in Germany were bedeviled by the impossible and more perverse than natural conduct in Lulu. Widekind was not exceptional in this. From the turn of  the century there were two opposing forces at work in Imperial Germany and both were curiously born out of self same causes. Perversity, vampirism and similar lurid subjects that were taboo till then began to appear as a reaction to a very moribund German national life. Lulu was a creature, an intellectual shock therapy on one hand from Widekind is an example. The other form of shock was prescribed by Deeds and came from wandervögels (birds of passage). The latter were  from well-to-do middle class families and this movement was hellbent to attack school, home and church. The latter group was to transform into Freikorps at the end of WWI.The latter played a part in helping Hitler to power while it marked the exodus of intellectuals to safer havens.

This film is directed by Austrian filmaker Georg Wilhelm Pabst, the film stars Louise Brooks as Lulu, Fritz Kortner as Dr. Schön, Francis Lederer as Alwa Schön and Alice Roberts as Countess Geschwitz.
The plot revolves around many loves of Lulu, her rise and fall. She marries a respectable newspaper publisher, but soon drives him into insanity, climaxing in an incident in which she accidentally shoots him to death. Found guilty of manslaughter, she escapes from justice with the help of her former pimp (whom she considers her father) and the son of her dead husband, who is also in love with her. After spending several months hiding in an illegal gambling den in France, where Lulu is nearly sold into slavery, Lulu and her friends end up living in squalor in a London garret. On Christmas Eve, driven into prostitution by poverty, Lulu meets her doom at the hands of Jack the Ripper.
Pandora’s Box was already adapted to the screen by Arzén von Cserépy in 1921 in Germany under the same title with Asta Nielsen in the roll as Lulu. There were musical, plays and other cinema features of the film at the time and the story of Pandora’s Box was commonplace in culture. This allowed Pabst to make liberties with the story of the film.(wikipedia)
Directed by     G. W. Pabst
Produced by     Seymour Nebenzal
Written by     G. W. Pabst
Ladislaus Vajda
Cinematography     Günther Krampf
Distributed by     Süd-Film
Release date(s)     Germany:
30 January, 1929
Running time     100-152 mins. (US)
133 mins. (dir. cut)
Country     Germany
Language     silent film
German intertitle
* Fritz Körtner as Dr. Ludwig Schön
* Francis Lederer as Alwa Schön: Dr. Ludwig Schön son.
* Carl Goetz as Schigolch: there is no real definiton of his relation to Lulu but it is suggested in the film that he is or has acted as a sort of pimp for Lulu.
* Krafft-Raschig as Rodrigo Quast
* Alice Roberts as Countess Anna Geschwitz: Geschwitz is defined by her masculine look with her tuxedo suit that she wears.
* Daisy D’Ora as Dr. Schön’s Fiance
* Gustav Diessl as Jack the Ripper
* Michael von Newlinsky as Marquis Casti-Piani
* Sigfried Arno as The Stage Manager
Similar Movies
Diary of a Lost Girl  (1929, G.W. Pabst)
The Blue Angel  (1930, Josef von Sternberg)
Queen Kelly  (1929, Erich Von Stroheim)
The Wild Heart  (1950, Rouben Mamoulian, Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger)
A Breath of Scandal  (1960, Michael Curtiz)
Looking for Mr. Goodbar  (1977, Richard Brooks)
Klondike Annie  (1936, Raoul Walsh)
Afgrunden  (1910, Peter Urban Gad)
Movies with the Same Personnel
Diary of a Lost Girl  (1929, G.W. Pabst)
Kameradschaft  (1931, G.W. Pabst)
Westfront 1918  (1930, G.W. Pabst)
The Threepenny Opera  (1931, G.W. Pabst)
Don Quixote  (1933, G.W. Pabst)
Der Prozess  (1948, G.W. Pabst)
The Strange Death of Adolf Hitler  (1943, James Hogan)
Die Stadt ist voller Geheimnisse  (1955, Fritz Kortner)

* Louise Brooks as Lulu: On seeing Louise Brooks as a Circus Performer in the 1928 Howard Hawks’ film A Girl in Every Port. Director G.W. Pabst tried to get Brooks on loan from Paramount Pictures. Pabst’s offer wasn’t even given to Brooks by the studio until she left Paramount over a Salary dispute. On not receiving Brooks for the role, Pabst’s second choice was Marlene Dietrich.
* Georg Wilhelm Pabst nearly signed Marlene Dietrich to star, although he greatly preferred Louise Brooks. According to Pabst, Dietrich was in his office waiting to sign the contract when a cable came from Paramount saying that Brooks was willing to play the role.
* Georg Wilhelm Pabst initially incurred a lot of wrath when he cast American Louise Brooks in the role of Lulu, a part which was considered to be quintessentially German. Ultimately Brooks’ performance silenced her critics.
* For the scene in which Lulu picks up and seduces Jack, Georg Wilhelm Pabst selected one of Louise Brooks’s own suits – her favorite – for Lulu’s costume and soiled, scuffed and rent it. Brooks claimed that, without spoken direction, Pabst thus established the desired effect of making her feel worn, cheap, and desperate, as the character of Lulu was intended to be portrayed.

* In her biography, Louise Brooks says she was physically attracted to Gustav Diessl, who played Jack the Ripper, and that made it easy for her to play her scenes with him.

* According to Louise Brooks’ memoir, “Lulu in Hollywood”, Alice Roberts was not aware her character was a lesbian until filming began, and she was initially opposed to playing the role as being attracted to Lulu. Georg Wilhelm Pabst, Brooks writes, convinced Roberts to pretend she was making her love gestures to Pabst, who was standing just off-camera.

* Louise Brooks’ highly influential “bob” hairdo is referred to as a Lulu to this day.

•    Fritz Kortner reportedly did not like or respect Louise Brooks, whom he didn’t consider a trained actress.
Memorable quotes:
Lulu: You’ll have to kill me to get rid of me.
Dr. Ludwig Schön: [to Alwa] Just one thing, my boy, beware of that woman.
Schigolch: You should only play when you’re sure to win.
Lulu: [referring to the Egyptian] He’s acting like he wants to buy me.
Marquis Casti-Piani: I need money badly and you have none to give me… The Egyptian will give me 50 more pounds than the German police… You’re in luck.
Alwa Schön: It’s strange how you can get booze on credit but not bread.
Lulu: MONEY! All they want is money!

In France, the film was edited making Alwa was Schon’s secretary and the countess became Lulu’s childhood friend. Lulu is found innocent in the film at her trial and there is no Jack the Ripper character as the film ended with Lulu joining the Salvation Army.

In Retro

The film was re-discovered in the 1950s by critics to great critical acclaim. Modern critics now praise the film as one of the classics of Weimar Germany’s cinema along with The Cabinet of Dr.Caligari, Metropolis, and The Blue Angel.

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(in German Die Freudlose Gasse)
Before I discuss the two films by GW Pabst let me put the film in proper context by briefly touching upon hyperinflation,  that existed in Weimar Republic.
Germany had to inflate its currency to pay the war reparations required under the Treaty of Versailles, but this didn’t cause hyperinflation. The German currency was relatively stable at about 60 Marks per US Dollar during the first half of 1921. But the “London ultimatum” in May 1921 demanded reparations in gold to be paid in annual installments of 2,000,000,000 gold marks plus 26 percent of the value of Germany’s exports. The first payment was paid when due in August 1921. That was the beginning of an increasingly rapid devaluation of the Mark which fell to less than one third of a cent by November 1921 (approx. 330 Marks per US Dollar). The total reparations demanded was 132,000,000,000 gold marks which was far more than the total German gold or foreign exchange. An attempt was made by Germany to buy foreign exchange, but that was paid in treasury bills and commercial debts for Marks, which only increased the speed of devaluation.

During the first half of 1922 the mark stabilized at about 320 Marks per Dollar accompanied by international reparations conferences including one in June 1922 organized by U.S. investment banker J. P. Morgan, Jr. When these meetings produced no workable solution, the inflation changed to hyperinflation and the Mark fell to 8000 Marks per Dollar by December 1922.
Although reparations accounted for about one third of the German deficit from 1920 to 1923,  the government found reparations a convenient scapegoat. Other scapegoats included bankers and speculators (particularly foreign), both of which groups had, in fact, exacerbated the hyperinflation through the normal course of their profit-seeking. The inflation reached its peak by November 1923, but ended when a new currency (the Rentenmark) was introduced.
A medal commemorating Germany’s 1923 hyperinflation. The engraving reads: “On 1st November 1923 1 pound of bread cost 3 billion, 1 pound of meat: 36 billions, 1 glass of beer: 4 billion.”(wikipedia)
“It’s strange how you can get booze on credit but not bread.”This quote is from Pandora’s Box(1929), which tersely encapsulates Germany’s Weimar Republic. The Joyless Street is also set during this tumultuous post-war Vienna. The city as Pabst saw was ‘a head that has no torso’. Plagued with skyrocketing inflation, the Austrian metropolis becomes the domain of every scurrilous form of profiteering. In such maledictory circumstances profiteers prosper.
In 1921 in the poverty-stricken part of town called Melchiorgasse in Austria inhabited by impoverished gentry and blue-collar workers, there are only two wealthy people: the butcher Josef Geiringer and his wife. Mrs. Greifer (literally her name means grasping) runs a fashion boutique and a nightclub patronized by the wealthier class of Vienna. Annexed to the nightclub is „Merkl“ hotel, a by-the-hour establishment, in which the women of the nightclub prostitute themselves in order to pay back their debts to Frau Greifer. The supporting characters include a poverty-stricken professor, his beleaguered daughter, an idealistic American Red Cross worker and a slinky harlot. Each character is photographed in a symbolic manner underlining his or her basic personality: the domineering butcher is photographed from a low angle, emphasizing his corrupt power, while the professor is lensed in long shot, highlighting the bareness of his apartment-and by extension, his life’.(Hal Erickson-allmovieguide.com)
Where despair rules can brothels be far behind? Every pfenning that a client put out was like thirty pieces of silver betraying some hopeless girl sunk low in  the economic mire.
The Joyless Street was the third film of Georg Wilhelm Pabst. The film is notable in the history of silent era film for a number of reasons. It made Greta Garbo an international star. Soon after this film was completed, Garbo was brought to the shores of the USA to star in films for MGM in Hollywood. It is also a film that marked the fame of Pabst as a creditable film-maker.
The film was directed by Georg Wilhelm Pabst and it is one of many films  concerning the plight of women in German society. The other films are Geheimnisse einer Seele (1926) with Lili Damita, The Loves of Jeanne Ney (1927) with Brigitte Helm, Pandora’s Box (1929), and Diary of a Lost Girl (1929), the last two starring American actress Louise Brooks.
The Joyless Street tells the story of two women whose lives take different routes during the period of hyper-inflation in immediate post-war Vienna. One is the poverty stricken Marie (played by Asta Nielsen), who stumbles into prostitution while attempting to raise money for the man she loves. The other is Greta, the daughter of a struggling middle class bureaucrat, who resists the temptation of the easy money that prostitution offers.
At the end of the film, a sick and impoverished Else kills the butcher because he won’t give her any meat and the poor in the neighborhood, hearing the sounds from the nightclub, begin a stone-throwing revolt against the rich. In the ruckus, the building goes up in flames, killing a pair of beggars. In the end, only Grete seems to have any hope of someday rising out Melchiorgasse, because of her relationship with an American Red Cross officer.
Nielsen and Garbo

Asta Nielsen portrays Marie as a slightly “lost”, faded beauty, face caked with too much make-up and in love with the much younger Egon. Not fully comprehending what is happening to her, she drifts into prostitution to raise money for the man who shows no interest in her.
The role of Marie is played by the 35-year-old Nielsen was one of Scandinavia and Germany’s premier actresses and this was one of her last films while the other actress was the 20-year-old Garbo who had just made Stiller’s The Atonement of Gösta Berling (1924) and was on the brink of stardom. In rather fortuitous circumstances Pabst found Garbo and the director in Berlin and signed her up for the film.
Garbo plays the daughter of a bureaucrat who loses every penny of his pension on the stock market. The loss forces them, at first, to take in borders. Their first tenant is the son of a wealthy American in Germany to study. The elder of the two daughters and the young man fall in love at once. The affair is doomed, however, because the girl, seeing the harm their lessened social status causes the father and her sister, is forced into becoming a chanteuse in a brothel. She is saved from the fate of many of the other girls at the last minute.
Pabst drew a very different performance from Garbo to the one he garnered from Nielsen. Greta, the character, although placed in much the same situation as Marie – unable to obtain meat during a food shortage, in dire need of money, tempted by prostitution – is a younger, more privileged woman. Garbo’s performance, in contrast to Nielsen’s, imbues her character with great vitality… When the American officer agrees to rent a room so that the family will be capable of paying its living expenses, the pores of her body seem to pulsate with a contagious exhilaration. As Louise Brooks, another actress who was touched by Pabst’s genius, said of Garbo, “she gave him the purest performance of her career.”(quoted from by Michael Koller)

The war was over, defeat its German portion. The social changes were about to push the stolid mercantile class known as Kleinburger ever lower. Self-pity of this class one might see in films like The Last Laugh, New Year’s Eve and The Street. “Die Strasse” of brothels has been a favored milieu for German film makers. Pabst was ‘ the humanitarian, and not the “psychologist,” in the “freudlose GassGasse” (the street without Freud). His sensitiveness placed this picture of the stricken above…the more typical German directors: he was not moralistic. His Viennese origin substituted delicacy for delikatessen; he did not compound the pathos on the recipe of “Mehr! Mehr !“( “Pabst and the Social Film,” by Harry Potamkin, originally appeared in Hound and Horn in 1933)
The present film has a ring of truth and brilliance of a genius in the making all of which owe to his own experiences in post-war Vienna. It helped him to provide a vivid document in charting the moral and economic collapse of a recently great society. Pendant upon this are films like Pandora’s Box and The Blue Angel(1930). The cabaret in which Lola Lola had men panting for more, in this film has a  brothel instead. The madam also controls the adjoining night-club and clothes shop. Who keeps her in business? The needy and the curious obviously. Among the latter are the military officials of the American Relief Fund, as well as a sleazy foreign investor who visit the night-club to experience what Viennese women are ‘really’ like.  The economic collapse has taken the kid gloves off from the wealthy and they are shown as grasping as ever. They feed on those less fortunate than themselves. If the madam should be as grasping it comes as no surprise. For every prospering madam there shall be those who have given up the will to succeed. Marie is one such. Her love for Egon merely is one way street and he is more interested in two other women; an older one who supplies him with the means to raise money and the younger Regina, the woman he truly loves, who wants it. Regina tells her suitor, Egon, that only money can make her happy. And she is happy for him to prostitute himself to get money for her. Love as you can see still makes the world go round even in such desperate times.
When completed the film was ten thousand feet in length…. France accepted the film, deleting two thousand feet and every shot of the ‘street’ itself. Vienna extracted all sequences in which Werner Krauss appeared as the butcher. Russia turned the American Lieutenant into a doctor and made the butcher the murderer instead of the girl.
(Ack:allmovieguide,senses of cinema-Michael Koller, June 2004)
With: Asta Nielsen, Werner Krauss, Jaro Furth, Einak Hanson, and Veleska. Gert.
Notes: Script by Willy Haas from a book by Hugo Bettauer. Cinematography by Guido Seeber and Robert Lach.
Original running time: 145 mins
(Original length: 12,264 ft.) Premiered 18 May 1925 in Berlin, Germany. / Standard 35mm spherical 1.37:1 format. / Asta Nielsen’s character was edited out of early USA release prints. Rereleased in 1937 with synchronized music and sound effects as The Street of Sorrow. The film was restored by the Munich Filmmuseum in 1999.

Survival Status: Print exists in the Munich Filmmuseum film archive; also in private film collections [16mm reduction positive].

* The name “Frau Greifer” literally means “Mrs. Grabber”, a metaphor for the stranglehold that poverty and prostitution have on women who fall into that way of life.
* The actress playing Elsa is Hertha von Walther (1903-1987), who looks very much like Marlene Dietrich, giving rise to the false rumor that Dietrich has a bit part in this film.

Similar Movies
Les Bas-Fonds  (1936, Jean Renoir)
The Lower Depths  (1957, Akira Kurosawa)
Na Dne  (1952, Andrey Frolov)
Austeria  (1983, Jerzy Kawalerowicz)
Movies with the Same Personnel
Ninotchka  (1939, Ernst Lubitsch)
Diary of a Lost Girl  (1929, G.W. Pabst)
Geheimnisse einer Seele  (1925, G.W. Pabst)
Westfront 1918  (1930, G.W. Pabst)
Paracelsus  (1943, G.W. Pabst)
Romance  (1930, Clarence Brown)
Inspiration  (1931, Clarence Brown)
Don Quixote  (1933, G.W. Pabst)

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Based on a Heinrich Mann novel by name Professor Unrath (film changed the title to Der Blaue Engel)  The Blue Angel’s fame now rests as the springboard for Marlene Dietrich. Originally it was intended as a showcase for the talented Emil Jannings as his talkie debut. He had returned to Germany from Hollywood in 1929, after winning the first Best Actor Oscar for “The Way of All Flesh” and “The Last Command,” and he brought over Josef von Sternberg, his “Last Command” director. This veteran actor of the silent era (The Last Laugh, Faust ) in his portrayal of Professor Immanuel Rath has left a memorable performance. This movie deserves it place among 100 Best films for all the right reasons.

It is 1925. In a momentous period of time in the social history of Germany everything that we associate with the failings of the Weimar republic, von Sternberg has with his masterly visual story-telling, set before us a society turned upside down. It is nghtlife that is more alluring than the plain as day honesty of the kleineburger who must feed his family. Economy is in shambles. In this state of things Lola Lola, a cabaret singer with her dubious morals is in her element as Prof. Rath, the pedantic scholar with his puritanical upbringing is at a disadvantage. A pillar of the society in a small German port town his routine one may precisely tell by the town-clock. He teaches English in the local gymnasium (boarding school) and It is on such a disciplined man the parents have laid their charge knowing he shall see to their future. But the defeat of a war, and the conspiracy of forces economic, political and all that come in the wake of a war, is beyond any one’s control. Licenciousness of despair is more powerful than the self-righteousness of any man however high his position may be, a sad truth we see time and time again. The Blue Angel as a film works on the premise.
Emil Jannings plays the tyrannical Professor Immanuel Rath — or “Unrath” (“Garbage”), as his students call him. He lives alone, with a caged bird by his side and a maid who grudgingly works for him. Boys shall always be boys and there cannot be anything common with their natural high spirits, and the authoritarian figure. His classes are always boring and they have their own ways to amuse themselves. When confiscating a postcard passed around by his students of a cabaret singer named “Lola Lola,” he discovers that the boys have been frequenting the nightclub called “The Blue Angel” to see this dancer perform.

In those times when despair rode the highway pushing the solid burghers to the wall, Professor Rath has a righteous mission: he must save his wards from the corruption with ‘million dollar’ legs and just the same casts seductive spell. He visits her in her lair. And It must have been the longest walk ever taken by a self-respecting professor to lose his way back.  The professor falls under the novelty of a woman as strange as Lola Lola. Her legs are unlike anything he had ever seen or imagined. With her low throaty voice, languorous eyes and supple body she teases him into submission: and in her smile she holds promise of every kind of lascivious knowledge. He was no match for her. Her easy morals would soon show his own, in a poor light. It doesn’t take long for the pedagogue to lose everything that had hitherto made his world secure, -his respectability, his job. The film’s poignant,- and very subtly played, bitter emotional climax comes in the famous scene where Rath puts on a clown makeup before a stage mirror to take his minor, humiliating part in Lola’s show. Any lesser actor would have overplayed it but Jannings gives it naturalness, and all the pathos is left for the viewer to feel and the film is deservedly a tribute to him. No one can save Professor Rath now. He shall never find his way back again as Germany would never return to her old ways in a manner of speaking.
When Lola informs Rath that she is leaving him for another man in the troupe, he flees from the night club and seeks refuge in his old classroom at the academy. Rejected, humiliated, and destitute, he ends his life in the very spot where his path to ruin began, at his old desk.
The film was banned in Nazi Germany in 1933, as were all the works of Heinrich Mann and Carl Zuckmayer. Yet it is well-known that Hitler viewed the film every night in his private cinema, and was mortified when Dietrich crossed the Rhine in American Army uniform a few days before his suicide.

Lola Lola’s nightclub act has been parodied on film by Danny Kaye (in drag) as Fraulein Lilli in On the Double, Madeline Kahn as Lili von Schtupp in Blazing Saddles and Helmut Berger in Luchino Visconti’s The Damned.

A stage adaptation by Romanian playwright Razvan Mazilu premiered in 2001 at the Odeon Theatre in Bucharest, starring Florin Zamfirescu as the professor and Maia Morgenstern as Lola Lola.
Memorable Quotes:

Kiepert: You must drink. I’m not paying for your art.
Lola Lola: They call me Lola.
[to stuffy Professor Immanuel Rath, who is dressed in a clown suit]
Lola Lola: Your boys should see you now.
Lola Lola: Falling in love again/ Never wanted to/ What am I to do?/ I can’t help it.

*  Marlene Dietrich’s screen test for this film survives. In it, she upbraids an unidentified piano player for his bad playing and sings two songs, the first of which is “You’re the Cream In My Coffee.”

* This was Emil Jannings’ final English-language film (it was released in both German and English versions – see Alternate Versions).

* Marlene Dietrich (Lola Lola) was, contrary to common belief, not the “star” of the film. She was not even a known actress. She was one of several students at an acting academy who were auditioned by director Josef von Sternberg for the role. Each of the girls was told to bring with them “a naughty song” which they would perform. Dietrich was so nervous and so sure that she would not get the role that she showed up without a song.

* Many actresses from the stage and screen were considered for the role of Lola Lola. Early contenders were Gloria Swanson, Phyllis Haver, Louise Brooks, Brigitte Helm, Lya De Putti, Leni Riefenstahl, Lotte Lenya, and many young German starlets.(imdb)

Similar Movies
Cabaret  (1972, Bob Fosse)
Pandora’s Box  (1929, G.W. Pabst)
Variété  (1925, Ewald André Dupont)
Belle of the Nineties  (1934, Leo McCarey)
Lola  (1981, Rainer Werner Fassbinder)
Diary of a Lost Girl  (1929, G.W. Pabst)
Grihalakshmi  (1938, H.M. Reddy)
Movies with the Same Personnel
Morocco  (1930, Josef von Sternberg)
The Last Command  (1928, Josef von Sternberg)
Shanghai Express  (1932, Josef von Sternberg)
The Scarlet Empress  (1934, Josef von Sternberg)
Blonde Venus  (1932, Josef von Sternberg)
Dishonored  (1931, Josef von Sternberg)
The Devil Is a Woman  (1935, Josef von Sternberg)
Seven Sinners  (1940, Tay Garnett)
Other Related Movies
is related to:      Blonde Venus  (1932, Josef von Sternberg)
Dishonored  (1931, Josef von Sternberg)
Morocco  (1930, Josef von Sternberg)
The Scarlet Empress  (1934, Josef von Sternberg)
Shanghai Express  (1932, Josef von Sternberg)
The Devil Is a Woman  (1935, Josef von Sternberg)
A Fool There Was  (1915, Frank Powell)
Frederick Hollander’s songs include “Falling in Love Again,” which became Dietrich’s signature tune.
Directed by     Josef von Sternberg
Produced by     Erich Pommer
Written by     Heinrich Mann
(also novel)
Carl Zuckmayer
Karl Vollmöller
Robert Liebmann
Josef von Sternberg
Starring     Emil Jannings
Marlene Dietrich
Kurt Gerron
Music by     Friedrich Hollaender
Cinematography     Günther Rittau
Editing by     Walter Klee
Sam Winston
Distributed by     UFA
Paramount Pictures
Release date(s)     1 April 1930 (Germany)
Running time     99 minutes
Country     Germany
Language     German/English
(ack:imdb,all movie,wikipedia)

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