The Personal is Political: The Films of Margarethe von Trotta

The German Sisters 18 (CTBA) (S)

The German Sisters

The German Sisters is justly considered one of the classics of New German Cinema, telling a prescient and intimate story of Germany. Based on the real life story of the Enslein sisters, this is the purest expression of Margarethe Von Trotta’s combination of the personal and the political.

Two sisters take diverging paths to emancipation in West Germany. Juliane (Jutta Lampe) is a feminist journalist, arguing for abortion rights; Marianne (Barbara Sukowa) is a terrorist revolutionary in a Baader-Meinhof type group. As Marianne’s political activism begins to take a personal cost, Juliane is stricken between her politics and her need to protect her sister and her family. But when Marianne is imprisoned, Juliane is forced to confront the realities of the harsh power of the state.

Showing the reverberations of the Nazi years on Germany in the 1980s, The German Sisters is as searching on a personal level as it is intelligent about the politics and costs of revolution. Von Trotta’s first collaboration with her muse Barbara Sukowa (who she would make the centre of six more of her features) the film was selected by Ingmar Bergman as one of his favourite films of all time.