The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum


1h 42m 1975
The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum

Brief Synopsis

Katharina, a young woman who meets a suspected terrorist at a party, falls in love, and agrees to hide him from the authorities.

Film Details

Also Known As
Katharina Blums förlorade heder, Lost Honor of Katharina Blum, Verlorene Ehre der Katharina Blum, Die
MPAA Rating
R
Genre
Adaptation
Drama
Foreign
Political
Romance
Thriller
Release Date
1975
Production Company
Paramount Pictures; Westdeutscher Rundfunk (Wdr)
Distribution Company
Cic Productions; Nelson Entertainment

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 42m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Synopsis

Katharina, a young woman who meets a suspected terrorist at a party, falls in love, and agrees to hide him from the authorities.

Film Details

Also Known As
Katharina Blums förlorade heder, Lost Honor of Katharina Blum, Verlorene Ehre der Katharina Blum, Die
MPAA Rating
R
Genre
Adaptation
Drama
Foreign
Political
Romance
Thriller
Release Date
1975
Production Company
Paramount Pictures; Westdeutscher Rundfunk (Wdr)
Distribution Company
Cic Productions; Nelson Entertainment

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 42m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Articles

The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum


The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum (1975) is based on a novel by Nobel Prize-winning German writer Heinrich Böll, who wrote it following a harrowing personal experience. After he criticized a lurid West German tabloid for inciting mass hysteria through its coverage of the Baader-Meinhof terrorist gang, the tabloid labeled Böll a terrorist sympathizer, and he and his family endured harassment by the police. This prompted him to write the novel, which is about a housemaid, played by Angela Winkler, who is unfairly victimized for harboring a terrorist. The right-wing press browbeats her and destroys her privacy and honor, driving her to pick up a gun and attack the journalist who defamed her. A key film of the New German Cinema movement, it remains an important, ever timely work dealing with the dangers of media manipulation. The film was written and directed by then husband and wife team Volker Schlöndorff and Margarethe von Trotta. Schlöndorff was already an established filmmaker who would go on to direct the international sensation The Tin Drum (1979). In short order, Von Trotta would direct a series of feminist films and become one of the most notable female filmmakers in Europe. In a 2018 interview for Film Comment, she reflected on this film, musing that it is still of the moment because of the ability “with your cellphone to immediately share your meaning and sometimes your hate and all these terrible feelings you have -- to give it away to so many others. It becomes very dangerous, much more so than in the time of Katharina Blum. Now with this popular right-wing party, AfD [Alternative für Deutschland, or “Alternative for Germany”], what we have is exactly what the Bild-Zeitung did in the time of Katharina Blum. But that was only one newspaper which was radically right-wing and popular. Now it’s a whole party who are speaking exactly like the Bild-Zeitung did then.”

by Jeremy Arnold

The Lost Honor Of Katharina Blum

The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum

The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum (1975) is based on a novel by Nobel Prize-winning German writer Heinrich Böll, who wrote it following a harrowing personal experience. After he criticized a lurid West German tabloid for inciting mass hysteria through its coverage of the Baader-Meinhof terrorist gang, the tabloid labeled Böll a terrorist sympathizer, and he and his family endured harassment by the police. This prompted him to write the novel, which is about a housemaid, played by Angela Winkler, who is unfairly victimized for harboring a terrorist. The right-wing press browbeats her and destroys her privacy and honor, driving her to pick up a gun and attack the journalist who defamed her. A key film of the New German Cinema movement, it remains an important, ever timely work dealing with the dangers of media manipulation. The film was written and directed by then husband and wife team Volker Schlöndorff and Margarethe von Trotta. Schlöndorff was already an established filmmaker who would go on to direct the international sensation The Tin Drum (1979). In short order, Von Trotta would direct a series of feminist films and become one of the most notable female filmmakers in Europe. In a 2018 interview for Film Comment, she reflected on this film, musing that it is still of the moment because of the ability “with your cellphone to immediately share your meaning and sometimes your hate and all these terrible feelings you have -- to give it away to so many others. It becomes very dangerous, much more so than in the time of Katharina Blum. Now with this popular right-wing party, AfD [Alternative für Deutschland, or “Alternative for Germany”], what we have is exactly what the Bild-Zeitung did in the time of Katharina Blum. But that was only one newspaper which was radically right-wing and popular. Now it’s a whole party who are speaking exactly like the Bild-Zeitung did then.”by Jeremy Arnold

The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum


Co-directed by Volker Schlondorff and Margarethe von Trotta, The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum is a disturbing and timely exploration of the media's reckless disregard for individual freedoms and common decency. Based on the novel by Nobel Prize-winning author Heinrich Boll, the 1975 film tells the story of one Katharina Blum, an unassuming, hard-working, and faithful servant to her friends and employers, who is accused of knowing and harboring wanted man Ludwig Goetten (Jurgen Prochnow). But aside from just being hauled in for questioning by a coldly efficient government official named Beizmenne (Mario Adorf), it is Beizmenne's collaboration on the side with Geraldo-esque tabloid "journalist" Werner Toetgess (Dieter Laser) that truly wrecks this Everywoman's life. With no regard to any notion of civil liberties, Beizmenne and Toetgess's double-barreled shotgun of government intrusion and media spectacle brings down on Katharina's head the kind of scrutiny usually reserved for Supreme Court justice nominees in America.

Criterion has issued an excellent edition of The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum onto DVD. Per their usual standards that redefine excellence and quality, Criterion's disc does not disappoint. In addition to a crisp transfer of the film, Criterion provides a cornucopia of supplemental material, even for a film that may have heretofore escaped the attention of most American viewers. There is a lengthy interview with the co-directors, Schlondorff and von Trotta, both separate and together. Among the topics they discuss are the particular reasons why they chose to adapt Boll's novel, as well as the unique situation of a husband and wife team co-directing a major motion picture together. The co-directors are not the only ones who chime in; cinematographer Jost Vacano, who later went on to serve as DP under Wolfgang Peterson on Das Boot (1981) and Paul Verhoeven on Robocop (1987) and Starship Troopers (1997), talks about his particular visual style that he brought to the project. Even Heinrich Boll shows up, courtesy of a documentary interview filmed during the 1970s. A lengthy and well-written essay delves into the themes of violation and loss of freedom from an uninhibited media and quasi-fascist government.

If one had to choose the "evil of two lessers," it is the media that is nailed in the most damning crosshairs. The media, whether it is the inhuman Toetgess or the pervasive and perverted "The Paper," the rag Toetgess writes for, the media as a whole is portrayed as a swarm of locusts. Philip Kaufman, in his film The Right Stuff (1984), took the metaphor one step further by actually providing insect sound effects over the shutterbug reporters that pry into the astronauts' lives. But in that film, the metaphor remained in the realm of satire. Katharina Blum's ordeal is no satire, but it is absurd. Our fascination with the media's incessant digging into even the minutest details of her life, measured to the smallest mark or kilometer, causes us to forget about why she's being investigated in the first place. It's not the end result of the media's investigation; it is Katharina's harrowingly unpleasant experience of being dragged through the headlines that destroys her life.

Like Elia Kazan's A Face in the Crowd (1957), another jarring depiction of the media's impact on our lives, The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum is a scary piece of fiction that has a habit of foretelling actual events of private people being publicly flayed by the media machinery. Richard Jewel, the hero in the 1996 Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta whose reputation was destroyed by an inept criminal investigation and a reckless local newspaper, is but one example of Katharina Blum's unfortunate truth.

For more information about The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum, visit Criterion Collection. To order The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum, go to TCM Shopping.

by Scott McGee

The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum

Co-directed by Volker Schlondorff and Margarethe von Trotta, The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum is a disturbing and timely exploration of the media's reckless disregard for individual freedoms and common decency. Based on the novel by Nobel Prize-winning author Heinrich Boll, the 1975 film tells the story of one Katharina Blum, an unassuming, hard-working, and faithful servant to her friends and employers, who is accused of knowing and harboring wanted man Ludwig Goetten (Jurgen Prochnow). But aside from just being hauled in for questioning by a coldly efficient government official named Beizmenne (Mario Adorf), it is Beizmenne's collaboration on the side with Geraldo-esque tabloid "journalist" Werner Toetgess (Dieter Laser) that truly wrecks this Everywoman's life. With no regard to any notion of civil liberties, Beizmenne and Toetgess's double-barreled shotgun of government intrusion and media spectacle brings down on Katharina's head the kind of scrutiny usually reserved for Supreme Court justice nominees in America. Criterion has issued an excellent edition of The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum onto DVD. Per their usual standards that redefine excellence and quality, Criterion's disc does not disappoint. In addition to a crisp transfer of the film, Criterion provides a cornucopia of supplemental material, even for a film that may have heretofore escaped the attention of most American viewers. There is a lengthy interview with the co-directors, Schlondorff and von Trotta, both separate and together. Among the topics they discuss are the particular reasons why they chose to adapt Boll's novel, as well as the unique situation of a husband and wife team co-directing a major motion picture together. The co-directors are not the only ones who chime in; cinematographer Jost Vacano, who later went on to serve as DP under Wolfgang Peterson on Das Boot (1981) and Paul Verhoeven on Robocop (1987) and Starship Troopers (1997), talks about his particular visual style that he brought to the project. Even Heinrich Boll shows up, courtesy of a documentary interview filmed during the 1970s. A lengthy and well-written essay delves into the themes of violation and loss of freedom from an uninhibited media and quasi-fascist government. If one had to choose the "evil of two lessers," it is the media that is nailed in the most damning crosshairs. The media, whether it is the inhuman Toetgess or the pervasive and perverted "The Paper," the rag Toetgess writes for, the media as a whole is portrayed as a swarm of locusts. Philip Kaufman, in his film The Right Stuff (1984), took the metaphor one step further by actually providing insect sound effects over the shutterbug reporters that pry into the astronauts' lives. But in that film, the metaphor remained in the realm of satire. Katharina Blum's ordeal is no satire, but it is absurd. Our fascination with the media's incessant digging into even the minutest details of her life, measured to the smallest mark or kilometer, causes us to forget about why she's being investigated in the first place. It's not the end result of the media's investigation; it is Katharina's harrowingly unpleasant experience of being dragged through the headlines that destroys her life. Like Elia Kazan's A Face in the Crowd (1957), another jarring depiction of the media's impact on our lives, The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum is a scary piece of fiction that has a habit of foretelling actual events of private people being publicly flayed by the media machinery. Richard Jewel, the hero in the 1996 Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta whose reputation was destroyed by an inept criminal investigation and a reckless local newspaper, is but one example of Katharina Blum's unfortunate truth. For more information about The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum, visit Criterion Collection. To order The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum, go to TCM Shopping. by Scott McGee

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1975

Released in United States on Video December 1983

Released in United States October 1975

Released in United States March 1976

Released in United States 1994

Shown at 1975 San Sebastian Film Festival.

Shown at New York Film Festival October 3 & 6, 1975.

Shown at Human Rights Watch International Film Festival (Margarethe Von Trotta Retrospective) in New York City April 29 - May 12, 1994.

Original photographer Dietrich Lohmann left the production after disagreements with Schlondorff.

Released in United States 1975

Released in United States on Video December 1983

Released in United States 1975 (Shown at 1975 San Sebastian Film Festival.)

Released in United States October 1975 (Shown at New York Film Festival October 3 & 6, 1975.)

Released in United States March 1976 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (Contemporary Cinema) March 18-31, 1976.)

Released in United States 1994 (Shown at Human Rights Watch International Film Festival (Margarethe Von Trotta Retrospective) in New York City April 29 - May 12, 1994.)