“Everything I have belongs to you — all I have left to give you is my death.”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
Response to Peary’s Review:
I find the film much more enjoyable than the above analysis would indicate. While it’s certainly of interest on a number of historical and thematic levels, it also simply “works” as a compelling, finely acted character drama. Xaver Schwarzenberger’s rich black-and-white cinematography and Rolf Zehetbauer’s stark set designs (note the blindingly white quarters of Dr. Katz’s “office”) help to create an “other-worldly” post-WWII landscape, one which resonates effectively with Voss’s warped existence. Indeed, the film is a fascinating combination of standard melodrama (Fassbinder was heavily influenced by Douglas Sirk) and post-modern surrealism: in one of the movie’s strangest scenes, for instance, Zech openly propositions Thate in front of his girlfriend (Cornelia Froboess), who thus knows about his betrayal yet ends up assisting Thate in his attempt to uncover the truth behind Zech’s mysterious relationship with her doctor (Duringer). Film fanatics — whether fans of Fassbinder’s oeuvre or not — are sure to find this one worth a look.
Note: Parallels are often made between this and Billy Wilder’s masterful Sunset Boulevard, given that both Zech’s Veronika Voss and Gloria Swanson’s Norma Desmond are aging “has beens”, desperate for a resurgence of their failing careers, who lure an impressionable young man into their troubled lives. This is definitely the darker of the two.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments: