Second Awakening of

Director: Margarethe von Trotta

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

I saw a premiere of The Second Awakening of Christina Klages (Das Zweite Erwachen der Christa Klages, 1978) so very long ago at the Seattle International Film Festival. I immediately adored the film, but it never had a proper distribution in the United States, I suspect because it was so obviously "feminist" & commerce refused to look beyond its politics to admit it was also one hell of a story.

Now all these decades later it is available subtitled on dvd but alas it looks as though it was recently struck from the same print I saw in 1978, which has spent the decades since getting fairly worn out.

But lovers of fine cinema sometimes have to settle for what's available. In this satiric suspense tale, based on an actual crime, Christina (Tina Engel) plays a young woman whose kindergarten daycare center is in debt. So she decides to rob a bank, assisted by Wolfgang & Werner (Friedrich Kaiser & Marius Muller-Westernhagen).

During the heist, Christina behaves threateningly toward bank teller Lena (Katharina Thalbach). They are locked in a gaze for some while, so that despite the disguise, Lena knows she can identify the woman robber.

The police capture Wolfgang, & are searching for Werner. They have only a suspicion about Christina, but are certain they can rely on Lena to make the identification once Christina is in custody.

She goes into hiding for a while, pursued by the strangely calm Lena. Christina during this fretful period goes through emotional, interpersonal, & political transformation. Her stalker Lena is a more mysterious figure whose intentions will not be known until the final startling moments of the film.

The film's politics do not get in the way of a powerful tale of friendships, obsessions, & character. Artful, measured, brilliantly written & performed, The Second Awakening of Christina Klages has real satiric bite.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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