One of the director’s most famous films is a biography of the legendary Rosa Luxemburg, the socialist icon who was murdered in 1919. The film jumps back and forth between different eras in her life, showing how she traveled to Germany from Poland and fought on behalf of workers against Emperor Wilhelm II’s regime. Frequently imprisoned, she also found lovers and challenged the men of the movement; there weren’t many women like her, highly educated and able to reach out to the masses. Hard to follow at times because of its fractured style, the film’s greatest asset is Barbara Sukowa in one of her best performances.
1986-West Germany. 116 min. Color. Produced by Eberhard Junkersdorf, Regina Ziegler. Written and directed by Margarethe Von Trotta. Cast: Barbara Sukowa (Rosa Luxemburg), Daniel Olbrychski (Leo Jogiches), Otto Sander (Karl Liebknecht), Adelheid Arndt, Jürgen Holtz, Doris Schade.
Trivia: Rainer Werner Fassbinder reportedly considered directing the film, but died before the project began.
Cannes: Best Actress (Sukowa).
Last word: “There’s a fairy-tale element to her story; the ending has three components, just like in fairy stories, where everything has to happen three times before it’s really over – so she’s first struck on the head, then she’s shot, then she’s thrown into the Landwehr canal. So it really did take three attempts not just to kill her, but to make absolutely sure that this woman would never return. And this for me was the beginning of a German history that then continued with National Socialism.” (Von Trotta, BFI)