Lola (1981)

Lola (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1981)

West Germany, late 1950s: Lola is a singing prostitute working in a brothel that the town's bigwigs, even the mayor, like to frequent. To the annoyance of the corrupt construction entrepreneurs, especially a crass man named Schukert, the town's new building commissioner von Bohm is an honest and idealistic man who tries to clean up the building license politics from bribery and cheating. 

The final part of the BRD trilogy, Lola is a post-war retelling of Josef Von Sternberg’s The Blue Angel and a mix of Jean Renoir’s The Rules of the Game. Both masters and masterpieces that have widely influenced Rainer Werner Fassbinder as well as melodrama mastermind Douglas Sirk. The style and form of Lola is filled with lush and vibrant colors that contrast with the screeching drama that occurs to Von Bohn (Armin Mueller-Stahl) and Schuckert (Mario Adorf) while being manipulated by Lola (Barbara Sukowa). As with the entire trilogy, a female character is the central element of each film. Even if in Lola, Lola has less screen time that Von Bohn and Schuckert she is the pivotal element of both men’s lives.

As with The Marriage of Maria Braun, parallels with Fassbinder’s life are easy to make between him and his heroins. He also make metaphors on the post-war West Germany with, for example, the presence of the black American soldier that represents the American occupation.

The way Von Bohn sees Lola and agrees to her lifestyle wraps up how the West German society was hypocritical in the late 1950's but also how everything was up for sale. The whore, flesh, and even Von Bohn's own morale. As Rousseau stated, it is not men who are instinctly bad but it is society that turns them into bad men. It's influence and the natural effect of wanting to fit in the mold and answer to the role we are all asked to act. Lola represents the cave in of Von Bohn's values into extreme capitalism.

On the other hand, Fassbinder directed his actors to be complete exgerations of their characters and used the term black comedy for his command on the film. He was still in the melo mode of 1950's Sirk inspired films but did not wanted to make a weeping drama. 

With The Marriage of Maria Braun, the BRD trilogy continues with Veronika Voss that will conclude this female titled tirlogy about 1950's West Germany and its excesses. Lola is almost a superior film to Maria Braun and goes way beyond in its social commentary and in the Fassbinder signature.

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