Lili Marleen (1981)
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This film is a clever examination of how hard it was NOT to become part of the Nazi system. Willie is a German singer, in love with a Swiss Jewish conductor. She returns to Germany to help her lover with the resistance, however his father - who disapproves of their relationship - has arranged that she will not be able to return to Switzerland. Stranded in Berlin, Willie is forced to use a Nazi connection just to get some work...and he just happens to be the newly appointed Cultural Director. So Willie is given the opportunity to perform and record 'Lili Marleen'. The song becomes a hit, and Hitler becomes a fan. I won't go into the rest of the plot, but be assured that there are twists and turns.
By the end of this movie, you will not be able to get the song 'Lili Marleen' out of your head as it is repeated countless times. Believe me, I saw the film last week, and I am still singing it.
Certainly, it is a Fassbinder's lesson about values and lies, about rules of war and feelings, about small victims and sacrifice.
Hanna Schygulla is gorgeous in a character's skin different of Lale Anderson or Marlene Dietrich but with the same art to describe the atmosphere of extincted space. In some moments I saw in parts of film elements of "Cabaret" Nazi song or "Satyricon" dances. It is normal: interpretation of song is not only piece of a show but rule of life. "Lili Marleen" is not the old "Das Lied eines Jungen Soldaten auf der Wacht" but hard of an universe, hypocrite, coward, frail.
The final meeting between Willie and Robert is only seal of ordinary tragedy. To late, to far.
Therefore, approaching an a priori controversial topic like Nazi Germany, in a dialectic manner, the depiction of this time in the form of a movie gets even more controversial, especially for people who cannot or do not want to see that our recognition of the world is by far not exhausted with a primitive light-switch schema, but needs the third instance of synthesis as controlling instance of its opposite members thesis and antithesis. The mutual relationship between offenders and victims has to scrutinized, since it is simply not true that the offenders are the bad ones and the victims the good ones. In a synthetic viewpoint, the bad ones participate on the goodness as the good ones participate on the badness. They are mutually related. In a world-view based on classical logic, a relation between good and bad cannot even been established, and in an ethics based on this insufficient system of logic, the bad conscience of the survivors of Nazi Germany, feeling (illogically enough) responsible for the deeds of their ancestors, exclude the possibility of a relationship between the two extremes and thus a synthesis in the form a new evaluation based on this relationship as well. From Fassbinder's dialectic viewpoint, it follows that neither Lili Marleen nor Lola nor Maria Braun can be condemned for their "misuse" of the ruling system for their private purposes, because they don't misuse them, they just use them. In the opposite, since victims must repeat the actions of the offenders as the offenders must repeat the actions of the victims, because "good" and "bad" are no longer simple mirror images of one another like in two-valued logic, their strategies are legitimated by the chiastic structure of a logic that describes our world, that is not black and white at all, much better than a black-and-white logic.
Well, the dubbing of an obviously English film with 'upper crust' English accents had me rolling in the aisles, snorting with laughter at some points throughout the film - it all rather distracted from what was really a very good film. Although the editing was a bit choppy in places (1970's relict directing?), the film faily trundles along providing a genteel look at the distractions and hardships WWII had on life in Europe. True, towards the end, one can sympathise with Giancarlo Giannini's 'torture' scene where the Germans lock him up in a room to listen to a couple of lines from the song, 'Lili Marleen' over and over again... How much was Giannini acting and how much was genuine suffering??? But, if you can overlook the dreadful dubbing, this is a good film!