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aka - Sehnsucht Der Veronika Voss, Die
Germany 1982
Directed by
Rainer Werner Fassbinder
104 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Veronika Voss

My favourite of Fassbinder’s “BRD trilogy” (the others of which are The Marriage of Maria Braun, 1979, and Lola, 1981, Veronika Voss is the least didactic of the trio and is arguably the director’s most polished foray into retro stylization – this time predominantly the black and white era of Hollywood film noir, albeit with a subject matter that Hollywood of the time would never have touched – drug addiction.

A sports reporter becomes intrigued by one-time UFA star, Veronika Voss, who he meets by accident on a rain-swept night. He discovers that she is under the power of an evil lady doctor who keeps her addicted to morphine in what is a very 1970s scenario of decadence and perversion.

Voss (Rosel Zech) recalls Gloria Swanson’s decayed starlet in Billy Wilder's Sunset Boulevard (1950), a film with which Fassbinder would have been very familiar. As always with Fassbinder however the raw material is bent and shaped to the director’s personal agenda. In collaboration with cinematographer Xaver Schwarzenberger (who also shot Lola) teh result is the director's most visually memorable film.

Another aspect of this film which makes it for me so appealing is Fassbinder’s deliciously dry use of American popular music of the period, with Zech’s stoned interpretation of “Memories Are Made Of This” being up there with Rita Hayworth’s “Lay The Blame On Mame” in Gilda (1946) and Dorothy Lamour's "This Is The Beginning Of The End" in Johnny Apollo (1940) as one of my most fondly-remembered screen song performances.

FYI: The original German title, Die Sehnsucht Der Veronika Voss, translates as "The Longing Of Veronika Voss". "BRD" stands for Bundesrepublik Deutschland, the official name of West Germany during the period in which those three stories takes place




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