Having seen Schlorndorf's Tin Drum and his The Lost Honour of Katherine Blum I got hold of this film,The Legend of Rita,curious to know what he'd made of a subject loosely based on the real Baader-Meinhoff gang.I preferred this low key approach to the subject,almost an interesting foot-note to the people depicted in The Baader-Meinhoff Complex,which though absorbing, covered too many real events,histories of members of the gang,and too much time,to ultimately satisfy me.This film,set in the later years of the cold war, tells the story of a group member who goes into hiding in East Germany during the 1980s.The movie is a fictionalized composite of many characters and incidents;it never refers to the group as the "Baader-Meinhoff Gang" or the "Red Army Faction"-it is a highly accurate account of the types of people and the incidents of the era.The screenwriter had interviewed real terrorists in jail.They fight against capitalism for the third world causes.
Rita(Bibiana Beglau) starts her journey as a member of a bank-robbing, terrorist group,whose antics are based on naïve idealism,a desire to overthrow the state.The Rolling Stones'`Street Fighting Man' sets the tone,wall charts of Che,books by Mao and Lenin in a room.After a series of complications,involving breaking a group leader out of prison,followed by life on the run in Germany and France,the anti-capitalist revolutionaries are forced to disband.Rita( and other members) takes refuge in East Germany,under a false identity,the `legend' of the title,whereby she is given a fabricated name and identity and placed in a job,to live an anonymous life in that country's grand socialist experiment.Working in a fabric dyeing plant,Rita is treated with contempt and derision by many of her new co-workers,who cannot believe she so blindly supports the East German state.She is drawn to Tatjana(Nadja Uhl),an alcoholic,who finds her like an alien from space,who wants to settle into normal life just as she wants to get out.They are both rebels, wanting to escape their country of birth.Rita discovers tenderness through love.When a co-worker realizes that she is a former terrorist,Rita is moved to another job in another city.She has to escape further into active life,do social work in a large company,supported by the Stasi agent Hull.At a summer resort she meets a young physicist,who seeing just a carefree woman, asks her to marry him.However she's not really an East German,she's living under cover,she's not free.Rita is happy in E.Germany, despite its drabness and lack of consumer goods,because people are neither rich nor poor.
At the moment her life seems to be coming together,East Germany is falling apart.Rita again goes on the run from West German authorities, with the fall of the Berlin Wall.She is killed as she runs a roadblock.Her devotion to the distant ideal of socialism never changes.This is a fictional exploration of character based on very real people ,often involved in killing people.However,it works in terms of seeing through Rita's eyes, of a worker's socialist state as a form of liberation, for someone who had burned their bridges with western consumerism and a lack of contact with the working classes.East Germany did take into hiding 11 former RAF members.Stasi officials even provided training to several of the members who returned to West Germany to carry out more terrorist attacks. The film appears to capture life in East Germany quite accurately.There is a stunning lead performance by Bibiana Beglau,from a dramatic background.The film benefits from using young,unknown faces in these roles.This is a good film ,superbly directed by Schlorndorff,exploring the emotional dilemmas posed by commitment to a cause. Schlorndroff's commentary track on the DVD is first rate for historical background and a booklet provides a great discussion between screenwriter Kholhasse,and the director.