Friday, April 17, 2015

Margarethe von Trotta: 'The Second Awakening of Christa Klages' (1978)

Margarethe von Trotta's Das zweite Erwachen der Christa Klages / The Second Awakening of Christa Klages (1978) is a beautiful gem of a film. First, it captures the Zeitgeist of the 1970s -- the spirit of the times: think Patty Hearst and the Baader-Meinhof, for example. This spirit pervades a crisis framework for the characters to move within, but the more surprising aspects of the film arrive through interdependent character development and social interaction that is refreshingly different from the more typical "buddy movie." 
Barely before The Second Awakening of Christa Klages is underway, two young men and the title character rob a bank in a most foolhardy manner; their ill-conceived notion is to help fund a sort of hippie school for little kids where Christa worked and has left her daughter for safekeeping. 

From this strange beginning, everyone is figuratively off to the races. One of them makes it to an idealistic collective in Portugal, but things don't end there. 
The strongest and more interesting characters in The Second Awakening of Christa Klages are three women and one man. Christa (Tina Engel) befriends the kind and thoughtful Pastor Hans Graw (Peter Schneider) and she also finds solace with Ingrid (Silvia Reize), a friend from the past. Finally, the mysterious Lena (Katharina Thalbach) works at the exchange bank Christa robbed and appears to be stalking her. 

Das zweite Erwachen der Christa Klages was director Margarethe von Trotta's first feature-length contribution to Der Neue Deutsche Film / the New German Cinema movement. The film print of the version I saw was washed out; it would be nice if this movie could be added to the Criterion Collection and given full honors. This is a cool indie film, different from most up to its time because of its special consideration of female characters. 

Today's Rune: The Self. 


Charles Gramlich said...

I suspect my 70s period in Arkansas was quite a bit different. :)

Barbara Bruederlin said...

This sounds exactly like the kind of film I love! Thanks for the heads up.

Vesper said...

I really love reading your posts about these movies. In my late teens, early twenties, I've seen a lot of these cinematheque movies... haven't seen this one, but I'd like to.