Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Blue Angel (1930)

Last night while attending to various household tasks I thought it would be fun to watch a video someone gave me of the 1930 German film Der Blaue Engel, starring Marlene Dietrich. I had not seen it since college days but remembered how hauntingly Marlene sings "Falling in love again" in German. I was struck more than ever of the profound tragedy of what is essentially a morality play set in the decadent Weimar Republic of the 1920's. Marlene plays "Lola Lola," a nightclub entertainer with a sordid past, who seduces a naive professor, a pillar of morality and respectability in his village. Professor Rath's fleeting fall from grace leads to the loss of respect of his students, and he carries his destruction further when he decides to marry Lola. In conquering the professor, Lola loses him, because the scholarly gentleman to whom she had felt drawn almost immediately disappears into buffoonery. The scene in which the professor is made to perform as a clown in front of his former pupils and colleagues, while Lola entertains her new lover in the next room, is one of the most tragic ever captured on celluloid. It shows the destruction sudden passion wreaks upon an essentially innocent person who, in spite of an upright past is not forgiven, by the world, for a single fatal transgression. Marlene, as usual, incarnates both sensuality and extreme callousness; how typical the Lola Lola character has become in our society, for what once only haunted cheap cabarets is now everywhere. Share

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

But that was typical of many films and dramas of that era where the woman is the ‘Jezabel” luring the innocent male. There is a line in a Carl Sandburg poem that I have always loved, “Chicago”, that mentions something about the painted women luring innocent farm boys.