Ideology II

film 4 of 5

The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jun 9, 2015

This is a cold, curious picture. At first it looks a bit like a TV movie, though later you notice that imagery and framing and cutting are actually very exact and effective. It’s just not slick, which is good. But there’s something off-putting. Is it that 70’s Germanness, so evident in so many Fassbinder films?? It’s kind of ugly, and almost dead. Of course a dead-pan element is doubtless part of a distancing strategy, so that we’ll not just identify with our ill-used protagonist, but actually identify the assumptions and institutions and methods, the ideology, that underpin the melodrama. That’s obviously good too.

But in the end there’s a last, niggling disqualifier. It may be that the Bild-Zeitung was this bad—Boll’s account of his experiences suggest as much. Still, there’s something of that pretty predominant lefty problem here. We’re in the right, and they’re monsters. In the end that may make for compelling, but it doesn’t make for satisfying, or fair. Brecht and Rosi distance as well, but they both know and show that everyone has his reasons.