6.7/10
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2 user 3 critic

Sheer Madness (1983)

Heller Wahn (original title)
Olga and Ruth become friends. Olga is independent, separated from her husband, living with an immigrant pianist, and teaching feminist literature. Ruth is withdrawn, a painter, possibly ... See full summary »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Olga
...
Ruth
Peter Striebeck ...
Franz
Christine Fersen ...
Erika
Franz Buchrieser ...
Dieter
Wladimir Yordanoff ...
Alexaj
Agnes Fink ...
Ruth's mother
...
Christof
Jochen Striebeck ...
Bruno
Therese Affolter ...
Renate
Werner Eichhorn ...
Schlesinger
Karl Striebeck ...
Bruno's father
Peter Aust
Helga Ballhaus
Selda Bondy
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Storyline

Olga and Ruth become friends. Olga is independent, separated from her husband, living with an immigrant pianist, and teaching feminist literature. Ruth is withdrawn, a painter, possibly mentally ill. Ruth dreams in black and white, sometimes of her suicide. Olga lectures on a 19th-century writer, von Günderrode, a suicide after the breakup of her intense friendship with Bettina Brentano. Ruth's husband Franz encourages the women's friendship, then, as Olga draws Ruth out and the friendship deepens, he becomes jealous. After the women travel to Egypt, Franz has a tirade. Ruth seems crushed between her husband and her friend, and how she responds is the film's climax. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

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title directed by female | See All (1) »

Genres:

Drama

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Release Date:

20 September 1985 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Sheer Madness  »

Filming Locations:

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Color:

(Eastmancolor)|
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Did You Know?

Connections

Featured in Die Neugier immer weiter treiben (1995) See more »

Soundtracks

Will you still love tomorrow?
by Gerry Goffi & Carole King
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User Reviews

 
Good take by "Von Trotta" on two different feminine worlds
24 March 2006 | by (Coral Gables, Fl) – See all my reviews

Director Margarethe Von Trotta is one of the most feminine issue-oriented film makers Europe has produced in the last 30 years. She has explored many facets of the German and Italian female universe in particular. In this film, she shows the catharsis experienced by two different women from two distinct worlds as a result of their unlikely friendship.

This 1982 film, which I recently saw at a Von Trotta Retrospective, now has a crispy clear image which makes it look fresher than recent films. Since the subject matter is not date sensitive, one would think the film is brand new. However, if you know the two main actresses (two of Germany's greatest in the 70s and 80s), you'll know it's not as recent as it looks.

The two actresses in the two main roles are Hanna Schygulla (also a Fassbinder muse) and Angela Winkler, who was Von Trotta's "Katharina Blum" some seven years before this performance. Winkler gives the stronger performance as Ruth, a mentally challenged artist with potential reactions like her "Katharina Blum" character.

Schygulla is the apparently more centered Olga. She will help Ruth, and have a hand in Ruth's transformation, but she will also be affected by Ruth. Strong performances from both actresses, well directed by Von Trotta, make this film unusual in the realm of cinematic claustrophobic character studies. Another must-see for Von Trotta fans.


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