Kino Eye: Rosa Luxemburg on film

Submitted by AWL on 9 November, 2021 - 6:47 Author: John Cunningham
Rosa Luxemburg

The article on Paul Frölich (Solidarity 612) brought to mind the 1986 film Rosa Luxemburg, by Margarethe von Trotta. Despite some faults Rosa Luxemburg does justice to the “Eagle”, as Lenin once referred to her.

Although she doesn’t resemble Rosa Luxemburg, Barbara Sukowa turns in a superb performance as we follow Rosa from her childhood in Poland to her death at the hands of the far-right Freikorps in the dying embers of the Spartacist revolution in Berlin in 1919. All the main elements of Rosa’s life are shown in the film: her fight against the revisionist Bernstein, her friendship with Klara Zetkin, her troubled but comradely partnership with Leo Jogiches, and, by contrast, her growing estrangement from German Social Democratic Party leader, Karl Kautsky.

The main gap, which surprises me, is the scarce mention of the 1917 Revolution in Russia. Even though she spent much of 1917 in prison, the events of that year were among the most important in her life. Rosa’s private life is, often, lovingly portrayed, including her fondness for animals: in one memorable scene she walks around the prison yard accompanied by a raven who appears to be listening as she talks to herself.

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