Wednesday, October 17, 2012

#206: Lola

(Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1981)

Lola is the third film in Fassbinder's BRD Trilogy, though it was made second. Ironically, though it is the last in the series conceptually, it was the first made with an eye towards the trilogy - as far as I've read Fassbinder had no plans for a unified triptych until after The Marriage of Maria Braun.

So what emerges from this new direction, and why did Fassbinder consider it to be the third film? There are a number of potential reasons, but I think the best case can be made for the ending of Lola being purposefully indicative of the next 20 years of German history. If in many ways the final moments of The Marriage of Maria Braun were meant to reflect upon modern German history's struggle with its immediate past, Lola marrying von Bohm while continuing her affair with Schuckert is an obvious nod to the complicated deal-making and corruption behind Germany's post-war success. Veronika Voss is perhaps the least obvious pick for a companion piece to these two politically charged endings, but the power Voss's doctors wield over her ties neatly into the various pressures the two other leading women feel as they hurtle towards their tragic fates.

I wrote in my Veronika Voss post that Lola was based on The Blue Angel - or at least the book it was based on. It turns out that, according to the Criterion essay, this is only half true: the film is a rough adaptation that changed a huge amount of the story, not the least of which is of course the setting, as the film takes place in an era a generation removed from even the film adaptation. Still, despite its strong metaphoric significance for that era, it might be the source material that keeps the film timeless, allowing a very specific fable to speak to the larger interplay between money and principles, love and career, ultimately morality and desire. Lola is ultimately entertaining because it doesn't present a clear condemnation of either side. Fassbinder seems to me much more interested in observing, perhaps even skewering, human nature as a whole.

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