When a classic or highly respected book is turned into a film, it doesn’t always go right. When the Criterion Collection adopts the film you can rest a little easier. Such is the case with The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum. Based on the 1974 novel by Heinrich Böll of the same name, the filmmakers — the film is directed by Volker Schlöndorff and Margarethe von Trotta — didn’t waste much time when they made the film in 1975.
After meeting a stranger at a party, Katharina Blum (portrayed by Angela Winkler), a usually quiet, relatively shy woman, is immediately taken with him. Katharina and the stranger, Ludwig (portrayed by Jürgen Prochnow), leave the party together and go back to her apartment where they spend the night. The following morning, police raid the apartment looking for Ludwig. Turns out he’s a bank robber sought by police but he’s nowhere to be found in the apartment. Katharina’s taken into police custody and aggressively interviewed. Meanwhile, the leading tabloid newspaper tears into her and her private life. Every little thing that she’s ever said or done is put under a magnifying glass for public consumption. The pressure builds to unbelievably high levels.
The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum is horrifying. The story is so close to what could conceivably happen that it’s scary, especially when you consider that it was made nearly four decades ago. It’s fast-paced and completely involving with fantastic acting. The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum is a part of the Criterion Collection and deservedly so. It’s a must see.