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The film Lola is part of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s BRD Trilogy. It is the second in the said trilogy with The Marriage of Maria Braun being the first and Veronika Voss the last. The story is about corruption. Ten years after the World War 2 in West Germany in the city of Coburg we find a local building contractor named Schuckert enjoying the benefits of the town’s building contracts through bribes.
The man has been involved in shady businesses for quite some time now but he is threatened by the arrival of the city’s new building commissioner, Von Bohm. Von Bohm as Schuckert would describe is a high minded modern man with old-fashioned principles. Schuckert is afraid that his business will be endangered by Von Bohm. Meanwhile a single mother singer/ prostitute by the name of Lola is Schuckert’s personal whore. She became intrigued with Von Bohm.
She became very curious of the man because she had heard many saying Von Bohm was different from other corrupt people in the said area. Von Bohm was described by many as someone with high principles. Von Bohm on the other hand planed to gradually change the system and by slowly eliminating the corrupt group of people. This group included Schuckert but his plans did not pushed through when he fell in love with Lola.
He was sucked in to the world of corruption when he married the single mother, giving her the control of decision making. At the end of the movie we see Lola and Schuckert going to bed after the former got married to Von Bohm. This paper aims to provide a critical film review of Fassbinder’s second BRB Trilogy, Lola.
Its objective is to present an analysis of the film in terms of its interpretation of the corruptions after the World War 2 and its portrayal of West Germany’s Economic Miracle. An analysis in terms of the films technical aspect such as mise en scenes, performance of the actors and the editing of the film will be a central topic of the said paper.
The BRB Trilogy is the masterpiece of German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder. It is composed of The Marriage of Maria Braun, Lola and Veronika Voss. The tile of the trilogy, BRB, is an acronym which stands for Bundersrepublik Deutschlang which is the official name of West Germany (Grisham). Though the three films are in no order related to each other in terms of narratives, they are all connected via a central theme which is the wealthy and the corrupts in post- World War 2 West Germany.
The first film, The Marriage of Maria Brauna, tells the story of Maria Brauna. Maria had a rush marriage with a man before he was sent to war to battle the advancing of the Allies.
Maria was told that her husband had died in the war. After hearing such devastating news she became the lover of an African-American soldier. Unexpectedly her husband returned shocking the lady of him being alive. Maria killed her lover in a fight and later her husband took the blame of her crime. In the film Maria became the assistant and mistress of a wealthy entrepreneur (Isaac).
The second film is Lola. It is about an upright building commissioner who is new in office. He aims to fight the corruption in the industry but ended up being part of the very corruption he wanted to fight when he fell in love with a prostitute and private whore of his enemy Schuckert.
The third film is about a film actress by the name of Veronika Voss. The title of the film is the name of the actress. The film revolves around a sports reporter discovering that the actress was under the influence of a villainous doctor. The doctor keeps Veronika addicted to opiates and tales advantage of her wealth. In the end despite the reporter’s attempts to save the film actress, she met a terrible end (Clark).
The three films are set in post-World War 2 West Germany during the economic miracle of the 1950s (Germany – The Economic Miracle). The main characters of the films were women who represented different people during the 1950s. The main message of the director, Fassbinder was to portray how West Germany was after the war.
All three films have unifying elements such as the theme of forgetting the past and moving forward with the future, the question looming in each film of who were the benefactors of the economic miracle (The German Economic Miracle) and lastly the presence of African American soldiers.
The first element is the theme of forgetting the past and moving forward with the future is common among three films because Nazi officials still hold positions in the government and have still political power in their hands. The second element is the view of the director that for every gain one attains, a lost occurs to another. Maria Brauna is someone who gained from the economic miracle while Veronika Voss lost allot in the same situation. As for Lola she took advantage of her position to attain economic progress and power.
Mise en Scene
Analyzing the mise en scene of the film, Lola we can find that the composition of the movie was quite organize. For every scene the director would use a fading background to cut a certain scene. It is quite amusing that the audience would be signaled to be prepared for the next scene of the film because of fading background music and the screen would slowly dim to the darkness.
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The movie was well composed where everything was organized for the audience to fully understand the situation of the characters. The film opened with the main character, Lola, the singer/ prostitute in her bedroom having a conversation with the local developer about the new building commissioner.
The first scenes of the film were properly laid out serving as the introduction for its audience. The characters were introduced well with the mayor being the puppet of the developer. The importance of the whorehouse was also highlighted as all the powerful gentlemen in the story were always found in the place.
The sets were very much beautiful and well planned. The whorehouse for one was made very colorful with the right props and the stage where Lola, the main character sang from time to time. The place looked very sophisticated and has adopted the aura of the 1950s which the film was set.
The same goes with the other sets of the film namely the apartment of von Bohm, the office of the building commissioner, the office of the mayor, the outside area of the main city where protesters have their demonstrations and the restaurant where the characters dined. The sets were all themed to fit the era of the 1950s.
In terms costumes I have noticed that all the characters were well dressed according to the said times. There was even a scene where von Bohm bought a new suite for his stroll with Lola. He asked his housekeeper how he looked and the lady answered him that he looked different in a sporty way but the design of his suite was very English. This particular scene caught my attention because the English were always the rivals of the Germans.
Though von Bohm considered the comment of the housekeeper as a complement, the director of the film gave a meaning to such as being more of a bad thing being English. It was later confirmed by Lola that being the fact that von Bohm wore a different shirt was considered fake and corrupt. My guess is that the director had those same opinions about the English.
For the props, the film was very detailed with every single prop in the set. Lola’s room for one was filled with materials one would expect from a prostitute’s room in the 1950s. The detail was highlighted by dolls Lola had in her room which she was very fond of. Another detail found in the film was when von Bohm bought a television.
It only had one channel but in the future they might be able to acquire another making the total channels available for viewing two. In this particular scene an African-American soldier, a neighbor of von Bohm, appeared in the scene.
The guest commented that in America they have twelve channels available to them for viewing and that compared to the Germans that they can only see the broadcast starting 08:00AM in America they can view broadcasts anytime. This particular scene depicted how Germany was lagging behind the United States and that the presence of the African-American soldier signaled the presence of the Americans in West Germany after the war.
The lighting of the film was very colorful, an advantage of the late 1970s and 1980s when the film was made. The director took advantage of the tricolor technology thus Lola was very vibrant. The lighting captured the moods of the characters and gave an aura of the personalities of each of the casts.
An example is Lola’s room where the lighting is a bit dark but with some portions of light illuminating the room. It gave the scenes that the character was in the dark but she lives in a colorful way, hoping to have a bright future for her daughter. The lighting of the brothel also gave a sense that the place was a dream come true where men were free to sin. There were more red lights in the whorehouse, a sign that evil things were done in the place.
The actors were well picked as they all fitted the temperament and likings of their characters. Each portrayed their parts well as they brought their characters to life on screen. Lola was portrayed as a beautiful blonde bombshell. She is irritable to any man who meets her. Schuckert who is the corrupt but wealthy building contractor was a chubby man with a bearded.
The actor gave justice to his part as he was indeed portrayed to be evil and corrupt. A well liked man for the wrong reason. Lastly von Bohm being described as a man in his 40s with principle was played well as he had grey receding hair but has a face of a man of principle and respect. All actors fitted well in their given parts and I’m glad to say that I myself was satisfied with the casting.
The director has planned the film well as the results were impressive. The organized set design and lighting together with the costumes which brought the actors to light, Fassbinder was able to capture the situation of West Germany during the economic miracle period. The performances of the actors were believable and it captivated the hearts of the audience. In the end everything became very realistic. The ending was not very fictional but depicted the real life ending most people go through in their lives.
One particular scene perhaps captured my attention, the scene where von Bohm discovered that the subject of his affection, Lola, was a prostitute. I found this particular scene funny as the man fled due to despair and shock upon finding out that Lola was a singer/ prostitute, worse a private whore of his enemy, Schuckert.
I honestly found the acting of the actor overly dramatic as he bolted out of the whorehouse. I was expecting more of a silent shock and a cold and chilly departure due to anger and despair. Everyone’s performance was quite believable and impressive except for the actor who played van Bohm. His initial portrayal of his character was good but as he became obsessed with Lola I found him to be quite overly reactive and sensitive which does not suite his aura at all.
It was awkward but then when I really think about it maybe it is his way of showing how love blinds a man (Jones). The most impressive actors I would say were the ones who played Lola and Schuckert as they portrayed believable characters who are human at indeed as they also became emotional but managed to keep their cunning and corrupt sides intact.
The performances of the characters were unique in a sense that everyone made their characters distinct which gave recall and instilled fondness among the audience. Another interesting character was the secretary of von Bohm who brought comical senses in the serious film with her whimsy behaviors.
The way the film was edited was very good. Each scene ended with a diming background and music but I found it quite unusual for it cuts the audience’s line of thought. It is a bit different from the usual movies I have seen in cinemas and at home. Lola is a unique film. One of its unique features is its editing element where the director, producers and the crew made sure that the film organized the thoughts of its audience upon seeing it.
It was like reading chapters of a book where each topic is segregated and separated. Issues were tackled one by one and as the plot deepens it was so easy for the audience to detect what changed in the sequence.
Te film was edited in a unique way indeed and also in a sense very dramatic as the director cuts the tension of scenes and leaves the audience in awe and desperation to know what would come next. The films in the 1950s can be of great comparison to the editing of Lola where Hollywood films during that time have the same manner of editing style as Lola.
The film Lola is part of Fassbinder’s BRB Trilogy. The said trilogy portrays and focuses on post World War 2 West Germany’s economic miracle. Lola is a film about the rampant corruption and control of political will and wealth of the rich in the city of Coburg. It is about a prostitute, Lola, who seduces the new and righteous building commissioner to the advantage of her long time financer and father of her illegitimate child.
The film opened with Lola being very curious of the new building commissioner because Schuckert was very worried that the new guy would compromise his plans and would be a problem in his shady business. Lola is challenged to make the man fall for her despite her peers’ comments that he is not for her. As she seduced the man she learned that with her charm she can gain economic advantages at the same time be the shadow of a powerful man.
The film is a masterpiece which depicts the realities of the rampant corruption during the economic miracle in post war West Germany. The director had mixed fiction with historical fact to deliver a work of art that is scandalous and daring in the industry.
Lola is not just a film about power and corruption but it is also a film that questions the activities of West Germany in the 1950s. What was Germany trying to do “forgetting” the Nazi reign by allowing former Nazi powers to have high political positions in government? What is the significance of African-American soldiers in West Germany?
Clark, Jim 2007, Veronika Voss Film Review. Web.
Germany – The Economic Miracle, 1998. Web.
Grisham, Therese 2012, Processes of Subjectification in Fassbinder’s I Only Want You to Love Me. Web.
Isaac, Dan 1982, Rainer Werner Fassbinder Criticism. Web.
Jones, Kent. Heartbreak House: Fassbinder’s BRD Trilogy. Web.
The German Economic Miracle, 2009. Web.