Saturday 24 August 2013

Veronika Voss [1982]

Veronika Voss, Fassbinder’s penultimate film, was the second edition in his celebrated ‘BRD Trilogy’, sandwiched between The Marriage of Maria Braun and Lola, although, sequence-wise, it released after the third film. Though, on first glance, it seemed to be inspired by Wilder’s caustic masterpiece Sunset Boulevard – though tonally they would place on the opposite ends of the spectrum, in essence, it was influenced by the tragic life and death of German actress Sybille Schmitz. Set a few years after the culmination of WWII and collapse of The Third Reich, the titular Veronica, magnificently played by Rosel Zech, is a once renowned star who has now been shunned by all for her purported closeness to the Nazi fraternity. She has now become a Morphine-addict, further fuelled by her doctor (Annemaire Duringer) in order to have control of her wealth. She has become susceptible to erratic mood swings making her impossible to deal with, trapped in her past as she still thinks of herself as the diva she once was, severely lonely, utterly helpless and a complete non-entity to the world around her. A brief glimmer of hope and solace arrives in her life in the form of middle-aged journalist Robert (Hilmar Thate) who she befriends in the film’s marvelously staged opening sequence that brilliantly introduced both the characters – she thinks she’ll be mobbed if people see her, but the befuddled Robert doesn’t even recognize her initially. Rich B/W photography and an evocative score laced this bleak, elegiac and melancholic film that perfectly captured the protagonist’s tragic arc while also providing a dark and harrowing peek into the corrupt and apathic underbelly of post-WWII German society.

Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Genre: Drama/Psychological Drama/Showbiz Drama
Language: German
Country: Germany


Sam Juliano said...

Yes, The SUNSET BOULEVARD influence is most apparent, and the film, winner of the Golden Bear is top rank Fassbinder, with that insightful thrust into post WW2 German society. Great review!

Shubhajit said...

Thanks Sam. Interestingly, though it does remind one of Sunset Blvd, it was apparently, in essence, based on the life of the German actress Sybille Schmitz. Another excellent chapter in his celebrated BRD Trilogy.