Die bleierne Zeit (1981)
Director: Margarethe von Trotta
Actors: Jutta Lampe, Barbara Sukowa
Runtime: 106 min
The film’s title “The Leaden Times” (Die bleierne Zeit) refers to the feelings of disappointment and defeat within the German Left in the 1970s, which followed the failures of 1960s social movements. A deep hatred of the political system and a strong need to bring it down as quickly as possible were confronted with the lack of serious strategy and inability to change things actually. Out this powerlessness were born on one side the reformism of Greens and on the other hand elitist adventurist urban-guerrilla groups like the Red Army Faction (also known as Baader-Meinhof group).
The film follows two sisters, both feminists and participants in these new social movements, which have chosen different routes of struggle against the system. One is journalist at a feminist weekly and fights for abortion rights, whereas the other joins the urban guerrillas and turns to armed struggle. Through their complex relations and discussions, looms the conflict between these two factions of the movement – the journalist believes that she chose the harder way because of her everyday work on women organizing and rising people’s consciousness, which she feels is harder and more serious than bombings or political kidnappings. The guerrilla fighter accuses her sister of being too soft and having a lack of courage to engage in real struggle, and thinks that she is satisfied with the crumbs that the system throws her. She demands support and attention from her sister, believing that she has the right to demand these since she has moved from words onto action. The film is partly based on the story of sisters Christine and Grudrun Ensslin (who was a member of RAF). Based on actual events.