Special Report: Margaretha Von Trotta, New German Cinema

By Moira Sullivan
Movie Magazine International
There is a woman who makes films in Germany - one of the most personal filmmakers I know: Margarethe von Trotta - born in 1942 in Berlin. She is credited along with former husband Volker Schlondorff whose film The Tin Drum from 1979 was banned in the Midwest-- for being one of the representatives of New German Cinema - the cinema that emerged after World War II. Many of the films from this period dealt with the repercussions of Nazi Germany, the violence of young people in political groups who rebelled against the changing world order such as Baader Meinhoff, and women who were victimized during the war and lost their loved ones.

These themes concern Margarethe von Trotta and several classics are available on video. She told me that she is not interested in wide distribution, but is content that her films play in good theaters. Her latest film The Women of Rosenstrasse is about the Aryan women who tried to save their Jewish spouses during World War II and occupied the streets below where their loved ones were confined. This is a little known event in history that von Trotta brings to the screen, waiting many years for funding to complete it. The film played at the "Berlin and Beyond" festival in the Castro in December, and will be in San Francisco and other cities in limited release in July. Movie Magazine International will bring you an exclusive interview with the director.

Other memorable films of von Trotta include Marianne and Julie (1981), starring Barbara Sukowa and Jutta Lampe - about two women growing up in a religious home after World War II who want to fight injustice. One becomes a reporter and works for the right to abortion, and the other joins a terrorist group and later goes to prison.

What is typical in the work of von Trotta, is that she weaves a personal story with compelling performances. As a revered director of the 1980's she was known for making ' the personal - political'. Sheer Madness (1983), is the story of a friendship between two women - a reclusive artist Angela Winkler, that meets a vibrant professor Hanna Schygulla who travels to Egypt and lives with her art.

Von Trotta does not use rapid editing or give in to the need for action to build momentum in a film. For that reason her films are seen as having a feminine language and sensitivity. There are no startling closeups or endless pans. She is content in building chemistry between strong female characters and for this reason, she is known as the most important female director of New German Cinema. Although this period has now merged with newer directions, von Trotta still compels with her narrative style.

For Movie Magazine, This is Moira Sullivan Stockholm Sweden.

More Information:
Margaretha Von Trotta, New German Cinema