Not much Germany during the Terrorism years
Rotty3M | Florida, United States | 03/20/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"First, I need to correct the editor's information. The terrorism of this group at the beginning of the film is NOT in the early 1990s, but in the late 1970s. Rita and her group are operating in the late 1970s as a terrorist cell (similar to RAF, June 2 and Bader-Meinhoff Gang). The film then leads up to the time when the "wall" falls in Berlin (02 October 1989) and the fate of Rita who decided not to leave the GDR when offered the chance to go to Beirut (in the early 1980s).
This film deals mostly with the East German government's reaction to West German terrorists. Another excellent film (though not available on Amazon.com) is "Lost Honor of Katherina Blum" (also directed by Schloendorff).Subtitles in the VHS version are not always accurate, but close enough. This review refers to the VHS edition."
Survival is just another word for nothing else to lose.
iloveprovence | 06/30/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Early in this story, Rita tells another young, female terroist that she got in it because she loved one of the terroist leaders. As a result, she spends the rest of her life living under assumed names, never being allowed to sustain relationships, worrying about being "discovered," and certainly having no freedom to be herself. This story is an eye opener about the lives of those, who during their early, idealistic years, make decisions that will forever dictate the rest of their lives. This film portrays one such person, very caring, needing of a real life, who will never get to have one. Very provocative! Should be required viewing for all 17 year olds."
Fascinating Portrayal Of A German Terrorist
Beth Fox | Los Angeles, CA USA | 02/16/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The Legend of Rita is generally an excellent film. Rita Vogt belongs to a small faction of terrorists who rob banks and commit other crimes "to support the revolution" in 1970s West Germany. From the get-go, the movie is fast-paced and exciting, with robberies and fights among the terrorists highlighted by quick scene changes. Rita, fleeing from the West German police, ultimately takes refuge in East Germany and is then given "legends," i.e., identities, to disguise her presence in that country. Although the character is completely fictional, Rita appears to resemble, both physically and otherwise, the Red Army Faction member Susanne Albrecht, who was given asylum and a new identity in East Germany (although Albrecht did not participate in a jailbreak.) Rita idolizes East Germany and is pleased to live in a "true socialist state" - a position that becomes untenable after the wall falls in 1989. The film strikes a note of truth as it contrasts East Germany as seen through Rita's rose-colored glasses and the country as it is seen by its own citizens. Rita's faith in, and enthusiasm for, socialism blinds her to the dreariness of East German life, which drives other characters in the film to drink.
Having said that, this portrayal of an RAF (although that group is not named) terrorist is far too sanitized. In the liner notes, the director refers to the real RAF as "so-called" terrorists. In the film, we are shown the apparently accidental murder of an attorney mid-jailbreak, and the murder of a policeman who is trying to catch Rita. Both of these murders can be rationalized (for those who wish to rationalize them) as crazed attempts to prevent arrest or continued imprisonment. In reality, the RAF deliberately, and with malice aforethought, murdered innocent people. Susanne Albrecht, for example, deliberately lured Jurgen Ponto, chairman of Dresdner Bank and Albrecht's godfather, to his death. An RAF faction killed Heinz Hillegart, the German economic attache to Sweden, and hung his corpse out the window. They kidnapped Peter Lorenz, the Christian Democrat candidate for mayor of West Berlin. The RAF joined other terrorists in the hijacking of an Air France jetliner to Entebbe. They separated the Jews from all the other passengers and threatened to kill them -- and would have, had an Israeli force led by Jonathan Netanyahu not rescued the hostages. In short, this was a bad, bad, bad gang, and - if indeed Schlondorff was portraying the RAF - it does no good to sugar-coat them.
While the film shows the Stasi helping the terrorists -- which did indeed happen -- it shows the Stasi men to be far too genial for my taste. The Stasi are portrayed simply as enthusiasts, who romanticize the revolutionary spirit of the terrorists and try to live vicariously through their exploits. In fact, as demonstrated elsewhere, the relationship between the Stasi and various terrorist groups was symbiotic: it was part of East German policy, determined at the highest level of the Politburo and with the encouragement of the Soviet Union, to arm and train them.
Despite these flaws, I highly recommend the film. It provides a very realistic portrayal of East Germany, right down to the prefabricated houses and the workplace collections for worldwide revolutionary movements. The spy agency's "Comrade General" is shown hunting, which was a favorite activity of Stasi commander Erich Mielke. Moreover, Bibliana Beglau is a terrific actress, and her portrayal of Rita is convincing. We are never completely sure why Rita joined the gang -- was it really love, or did her obvious sympathies lead her over the edge? Finally, the film raises some important issues about youthful mistakes from the perspective of middle age. Overall, the film is well worth watching.