THE LEGEND OF RITA
Release Date: March 16, 2001
Starring: Bibiana Beglau, Martin Wuttke,
Nadja Uhl, Harald Schrott,
Jenny Schilly, & Alexander
Rating: Not Rated
Runtime: 101 minutes
Distributor: Kino International
Director: Volker Schlondorff
Producer: Arthur Hofer, Emmo Lempert &
Writer: Wolfgang Kohlhaase & Volker
Address Comments To:Donald Krum, President
333 West 39th Street
New York, NY 10018
Phone: (212) 629-6880
Fax: (212) 714-0871
Web Page: www.kino.com
THE LEGEND OF RITA focuses on the career of one such revolutionary, a fictional character named Rita Vogt. After robbing a bank and springing her revolutionary lover, Andreas, from jail, Rita and her Communist comrades escape to Paris. There, Rita murders a traffic cop, so this merry band of Bolsheviks runs away to East Germany, into the welcoming arms of the secret police.
Unwilling to go to Beirut, Lebanon to stir up things with Andreas, Rita elects to change her identity and remain in East Germany, where she will join the proletariat masses in the factories. There, Rita entices one of her female co-workers, an alcoholic divorcee named Tatjana, into lesbianism. A West German news report blows her cover, however, so the East German authorities invent another identity, or legend, for Rita, this time as a counselor at a summer youth camp. At this camp, Rita falls in love with a male lifeguard, who proposes marriage to her.
Historical events intervene, however. The Berlin Wall comes down, a divided Germany begins to unite again, and Rita’s East German handlers decide not to protect the terrorists in their midst any longer, much to the chagrin of Rita’s immediate supervisor, Erwin. Tragedy ensues, but, throughout it all, Rita maintains her Communist ideology and revolutionary spirit, even to the point of publicly chastising her East German co-workers for losing their political “faith” and for being so relieved that the Communist oppression is coming to an end. As one Internet critic sarcastically put it, “It’s good to have a cause to kill for.”
THE LEGEND OF RITA’s naturalistic style is rather plainly made. Relatively uninvolving for the most part, it suggests that political compromise with capitalism and lack of political will is what ultimately destroys Rita and her terrorist friends. Ironically, when Rita asks Erwin late in the story if she can join the Communist Party, he tells her that the Party cannot afford to have her reveal her terrorist past, nor can it afford to let her be a Party member with a phony identity. “The Party demands the truth,” Erwin says. “Always and everywhere.”
Thus, THE LEGEND OF RITA sides completely with the romantic Communist idealism of its feminine revolutionary. Not only that, but it celebrates her free-spirited sexual libertinism, which allows her one moment to fornicate with the male leader of her terrorist cell, and the next moment to seduce her confused and pitiful female co-worker, the alcoholic Tatjana. Regrettably, this political, sexual and moral perversion appears to reflect German society’s recent left-leaning tilt. It shows that the Cold War is not really over; it’s just moved to a different kind of battleground. As always, it’s a battle for men’s souls, not just their pocketbooks.
Relatively uninvolving for the most part, THE LEGEND OF RITA suggests that political compromise with capitalism and lack of political will is what destroys Rita. The movie laments the destruction of the romantic Communist idealism of its feminine revolutionary. Not only that, but it celebrates her free-spirited sexual libertinism, which allows her one moment to fornicate with the male leader of her terrorist cell, and the next moment to seduce a pitiful female co-worker. Thus, THE LEGEND OF RITA is politically, sexually and morally perverted