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Born: Berlin, Germany, 21 February 1942.

Margarethe von Trotta (JPG, 16 KB)

Perhaps the best known female director to emerge from the New German Cinema, Von Trotta began her career as a stage actress and, in the late 1960s, appeared in films by Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Volker Schlöndorff (whom she married in 1971). She then co-scripted (and narrated) Schlöndorff's The Sudden Wealth of the Poor People of Kolmbach (1971), turned in a precise, riveting performance in the lead role of Coup de Grace (1976) and co-directed The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum (1975) with her husband. Von Trotta made an impressive solo directing debut with The Second Awakening of Christa Klages (1977). The film introduces many of the themes that recur in her later work: the complexities of female bonding; the dimensions and dilemmas of liberalism; and the uses and effects of violence. Sisters, or the Balance of Happiness (1979) is an intricate examination of the relationship between a destructive, confused Hamburg secretary and her two "sisters"—one by birth and one whom she "adopts"; Marianne and Juliane (1982) is a compelling study of terrorism, viewed via the relationship between a Baader Meinhof activist and her journalist sister (the two are based on the real-life characters, Gudrun and Christiane Ensslin). Rosa Luxemburg (1986) is an accomplished, multi-leveled biography of the early 20th-century radical.


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