NEW WORLD PICTURES MONTH: The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum (1975)

It’s pretty amazing seeing how many movies from New World or distributed by Roger Corman are in the Criterion Collection: The Harder They ComeCries and WhispersFantastic PlanetAmarcord and this movie. While Corman’s produced films may be about car crashes and half-nude nurses (in jail), he could certainly pick movies to champion.

The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum, or: How violence develops and where it can lead is based on the novel of the same name by Heinrich Böll and is an indictment of how society and the media can demonize women, which is a heady subject for a movie, again, distributed by Corman.

Katharina Blum (Angelina Winkler) is a housekeeper whose lawyer boss refers to as “The Nun” because of what a prude she is. Yet when she gets involved with Ludwig Götten (Jürgen Prochnow), an anarchist and bank robber, she gets her name hung out to dry in the tabloids and accused of aiding and abetting the would-be terrorist. That newspaper goes so far that it ruins all of Katharina’s relationships and even causes her mother to die in the hospital, misinterpreting her last words to make it appear like she hated her daughter.

Unable to get her own story out, she finally kills a reporter and his photographer. That reporter is buried as a hero, seen as someone using his ability to tell the real story. His coffin gives the film an opportunity to call out the yellow journalism of German tabloid Bild-Zeitung.

When this was made, West German tabloid newspapers worked hand in hand with the police to publish pretty much anything they wanted about anyone they wanted. The reporter makes up stories about Katharina for the entire film and then expects her to sleep with him because he gave her what so many people want. He made her famous.

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